“Christina’s World”

Andrew Wyeth, “Christina’s World” 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel.

So I’ve decided to post an artwork everyday that I have come across in my studies — a little daily dose of culture. Hope you enjoy! Today’s work is by American artist Andrew Wyeth, titled, “Christina’s World” 1948, tempera on gessoed panel. Wyeth is one of the few modern artists to master tempera paint and he uses the medium to achieve extraordinary detail. The work depicts a woman whom Wyeth became acquainted with named Christina Olsen who suffered from polio. The disease paralyzed her from the waist down – and legend has it he saw her one day, out the window of his Maine summer home, crawling across the field. This work always felt eerie to me – there is a sadness and loneliness about it. Just through Wyeth’s formal choices; the subtle changes in light and color, the implied lines if the half-harvested field, Christina seems trapped; and we are seeing the spiritual/mental side of her limits, how cut off from the world she must be. She hovers above the field more than inhabits it, as if she not really there at all. It is simultaneously a mystery and completely relatable, as we have all felt trapped within ourselves from time to time. Yet doesn’t there seem to be a strange glimmer of hope and determination as well? Of breaking boundaries, and overcoming the impossible? (Original post to Instagram October 25, 2012.)

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