Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Medicine on the UES, Wyeth in Philly

I'm beginning to associate the Upper East Side with sickness, because one of the most common reasons I find myself over there these days is to visit some specialist or get some medical procedure done. Today it was an X-ray and MRI at a place practically on the East River. I fell asleep for a bit during the MRI, and the technician could tell for some reason, and told me to stay awake. Eventually, I keep telling myself, I'm going to arrange so that I only see doctors on the West Side, whether uptown or downtown; the subways were just not built to accommodate east-west movement, and crosstown buses are not much of an option when you're hurrying in the morning.

I'm really glad we went to see the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Art Museum in Philly. I was really captivated, and ended up finding even more fault with that NYTimes review I wrote about last month. It was Memorial Day, so there were a lot fewer people in the museum than usual for a day off, but it wasn't entirely empty, either ... The dance we perform when viewing a sequential exhibit, measuring out sight lines, aiming to block others' lines as little as possible, getting up close to a work when no one else is looking, watching the people as much as the art, following certain others through the exhibit ... Growing up, we'd always seen a lot of the Wyeth family's works at the Brandywine River Museum, but this was probably the most coherent explanation of 82-year-old Andrew's themes and methods. The way he so often selectively removes people from his paintings, but allows the shadows and meanings to remain, tethered as they so often are to the objects upon which he fixates. The fine detailed brush strokes. The need for patience from models or otherwise the patience of a bucket, a hat, a house, a pair of boots. I really got the sense that A. Wyeth's work is a lot deeper than the "Pottery Barn" reviewer gave him credit for, and so what if the Chadds Ford and Maine coastline that he depicts are greatly shaped by his own selectivity. He's all the greater and more modern artist for it.

No comments: