The MoMA is not a rural retreat, but going to see Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World is always a good way to forget about the traffic and the airplanes landing on the Hudson. [Editor’s note: I had this print my bedroom growing up.] Its starkness and pastoral charm have a quiet beauty, and so it’s fitting that its creator died peacefully in his sleep today.
Wyeth might have drawn controversy for his penchant for realism and devotion to Reagan, but his bucolic depictions — inspired rural Pennsylvania and Maine — possess a creepy wonder not too distant from the work of Edward Hopper or even David Lynch. His passing feels odd, as if he belonged to some mythical American past inhabited by people who lived off the land and worked the fields. Not that those folks aren’t still around today, but sometimes living in New York makes the countryside seem abstract; it’s fitting to us that his work will always live inside the walls of an institution whose collection veers towards elements less tangible than rivers and farm houses.
That, and we’ll always appreciate its ability to transport us away from the concrete for at least a few minutes before the siren blares creep back into our conscious.