American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe

Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917–2009). _Christina's World._ 1948. Tempera on panel, 32 1/4 x 47 3/4" (81.9 x 121.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase

Andrew Wyeth. Christina's World. 1948

Tempera on panel, 32 1/4 x 47 3/4" (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase

NARRATOR: Andrew Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him. He spent his summers in Maine, where he lived near Christina Olson, the woman who inspired this painting. Christina suffered from a neuromuscular disease and eventually lost the ability to walk. Assistant Curator Kathy Curry:

CURATOR (KATHY CURRY): One day he looked out the window and saw her crawling across a field picking blueberries, and he was inspired to paint the scene he was seeing.

NARRATOR: Wyeth significantly enlarged the size of the field to heighten the drama of the scene.

CURATOR (KATHY CURRY): And he worked very carefully in the tempera technique to outline each blade of this straw. He even thought of the buildings in the back sort of as an after-thought; he worked on those much later. He really was concentrating on the field to show how lost she feels and how hard it is for her to crawl across the field to her home.

NARRATOR: In a 1953 letter to Alfred Barr, the first director of The Museum of Modern Art, Wyeth explained:

ARTIST (ANDREW WYETH): The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless. If in some small way I have been able in paint to make the viewer sense that her world may be limited physically but by no means spiritually, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

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