(Header Image Photo Credit: Glenn Holsten, director of American Masters: Wyeth, filming at the Kuerner Farm House in Chadds Ford, PA.)
Wyeth tells the story of popular and controversial American artist Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth’s story is told through his family, experts, archival footage and his beautiful pieces of art.
Andrew Wyeth became famous in the 1960s for his paintings which displayed incredible realism blended with surrealism and sprinkled with a little bit of abstract art. When the artist’s exhibits would break record attendance, art critics began to criticize the painter for being too popular. (Sounds like jealousy to me). The documentary explores a bit of Andrew Wyeth’s childhood, where Andrew would learn how to be creative from his father NC who also was an acclaimed illustrator, as well as his marriage to Betsy, who inspired him to work even harder on his paintings. What the documentary also discusses is possibly the most controversial part of Andrew Wyeth’s career which is regarding one of the artist’s muses, Helga.
“…famous in the 1960s for his paintings which displayed incredible realism blended with surrealism and sprinkled with a little bit of abstract art.”
Helga was the center of a series of pieces (over 200) done by Wyeth which included the young woman nude in most of the pieces. The pieces were kept secret for many years, even kept secret from his wife who was heavily involved in the artist’s career. This became controversial for a couple of reasons. One: Andrew Wyeth was married to Betsy at the time the pieces were made. Two: Some people accused Wyeth of making up Helga in order to create publicity. This documentary puts the conspiracy to rest by having the real Helga share her experiences about being Andrew’s muse. I found Helga’s insight to be the most interesting part of the documentary even though the documentary was very interesting throughout.
A neat thing about the documentary is that we get to see some of the actual scenery that inspired some of Wyeth’s most famous pieces. The camera captures these great shots of places that were key to Wyeth’s life and the shots alone look like amazing paintings that are in motion. You can see why Wyeth included a lot of scenery in his pieces.
“…kept secret for many years, even kept secret from his wife who was heavily involved in the artist’s career…”
I learned a lot about a painter that I never really knew about. The doc really benefited from having the Wyeth family and Helga share their insight into the man behind the paintings. I don’t have many negatives to say about the documentary other than that it seemed kind of short with a runtime of 52 minutes. For a man that was such an iconic artist, something tells me that there’s a lot more to his story. The documentary could have told more about Andrew’s childhood. If you do some research into his childhood you will find that he had a pretty interesting one being the son of a famous illustrator and homeschooled. It goes into that just a bit but not enough. Then again, maybe Andrew Wyeth has just been telling the world his story through his paintings and you know what they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Wyeth (2018) Directed by Glenn Holsten.
8 out of 10