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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wyeth, Andrew


Day Dream
1980
detail unknown

Model of this painting is Helga Testorf, born in Germany. The Helga Pictures are a series of more than 240 paintings and drawings of German model Helga Testorf created by Andrew Wyeth between 1971 and 1985. Testorf was a neighbor of Wyeth's in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and over the course of fifteen years posed for Wyeth indoors and out of doors, nude and clothed.

Explaining the series, Wyeth said, "The difference between me and a lot of painters is that I have to have a personal contact with my models.... I have to become enamored. That's what happened when I saw Helga." He described his attraction to "all her German qualities, her strong, determined stride, that Loden coat, the braided blond hair".

Wyeth asked Testorf to model for him in 1971, and from then until 1985 he made 45 paintings and 200 drawings of her, many of which depicted her nude. The sessions were a secret even to their spouses. The paintings were stored at the home of his student, neighbor and good friend. When the existence of the pictures was made public images of Testorf graced the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazines. Well after the paintings were finished, Testorf remained close to Wyeth and helped care for him in his old age.

"its all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of design is motion." (Wyeth)

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) is one of the most famous US painters of the twentieth century and often named the "Painter of the People" as a result of his popularity with the American people. He was a visual artist, primarily a realist painter in the American tradition, capturing the people and landscapes of his country on canvas.

The youngest of five children, his artistic talent was highly influenced by his famous illustrator father. Wyeth was mostly home-schooled and did not attend any college or university. He also did not receive any formal artistic training, but his parents recognized and nurtured his talent. The Wyeth family was highly creative.

He was inspired by the people and landscapes that surrounded his childhood home in Pennsylvania and his summer home in Maine. His close friends and neighbors were usually the subjects of his paintings. His most famous model and subject of numerous works was Christina Olson. One of the most well-known images in twentieth century American art is his painting, Christina's World. Following her death, Wyeth painted Helga Testorf for over a decade. He created over 240 studies of this model known as the Helga Suite.

In Wyeth’s words, "Art to me, is seeing. I think you have got to use your eyes, as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn't work… If one could only catch that true color of nature ? the very thought of it drives me mad."