Exhibition and first retrospective in almost 50 years to highlight artist who inspired creators of “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones”
The Taft Museum of Art presents N. C. Wyeth: New Perspectives (February 8 through May 3, 2020), the first exhibition in almost 50 years to examine in-depth the entirety of N. C. Wyeth’s (1882–1945) multifaceted body of work. This landmark exhibition brings together approximately 50 of Wyeth’s adventure-packed, large-scale paintings and private works for its final destination and only Midwest venue.
N. C. Wyeth is cited as inspiring “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin, “helping them to imagine what an adventure story might look like.” (PBS News Hour) However, this formidable patriarch of one of America’s most prominent artistic families (including his son, Andrew Wyeth, and his grandson, Jamie Wyeth) is an often-overlooked figure in art history. Wyeth’s work brought to life iconic characters from the stories of Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans, The Boy’s King Arthur, and many others published as part of Charles Scribner’s Sons Illustrated Classics series (as well as for other publishers) that are still well-known today.
In addition to his fame as an illustrator, Wyeth also deserves greater appreciation for his little-known fine art paintings. This work exemplifies his artistic evolution from the American impressionist style of the 1910s to the regionalist realism of the 1930s and ’40s associated with artists such as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood.
“Wyeth’s remarkable imagination not only allowed him to give deeply compelling visual form to well-chosen episodes from novels,” says Ann Glasscock, Taft Museum of Art’s Assistant Curator, “but it simultaneously inspired his unpaid work as he explored the world and events around him in exquisitely composed and brilliantly colored paintings.”
Thus, New Perspectives celebrates Wyeth’s artistic breadth, by presenting both his illustrations and his personal work, revealing his love of nature, the contemporary American scene, and a passion for color, light, and narrative—making a case for his inclusion as a major painter of the early 20th century.
“A master visual storyteller, N. C. Wyeth’s legacy has long been omitted from the greater narrative of art history,” says Deborah Emont Scott, Taft Museum of Art’s Louise Taft Semple President/CEO. “The Taft is proud to showcase his work in the first and only exhibition of its kind to truly examine the scope of his artistic prowess and cultural influence on the world today.”
Exhibition Organizers and Travel Dates:
Co-organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and the Portland Museum of Art (PMA), Maine, New Perspectives was first presented at the Brandywine (June 22–September 15, 2019) followed by its display at the PMA (October 4, 2019–January 12, 2020). The Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio will be its final destination and only Midwest venue (February 8, 2020–May 3, 2020).
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum’s public programs will explore the influential American artist. A complete list of offerings and details may be found at taftmuseum.org; highlighted programs include:
YOUNG MASTER’S STUDIO | Storytelling
February 29, 1:30–4 p.m.
After visiting the special exhibition, children ages 7+ can make their own stories come to life with contemporary author and illustrator Erin Baker. $10 per child—includes all materials and Museum admission.
WORKSHOP | Fabulous Fluid Acrylic Painting
March 14, 1–4 p.m.
All ages can learn the art of color mixing and paint pouring with artist Carolyn McGowan. Inspired by the bold colors used by Wyeth, participants will learn the process of fluid acrylic painting and take home three original works of art. $55 members, $65 non-members—includes all materials and Museum admission.
TALK | Buried Treasures: N. C. Wyeth’s Illustrations for Treasure Island
April 2, 6:30 p.m.
David M. Lubin, the Charlotte Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University, will unearth the hidden tensions in Wyeth’s famous illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure tale, Treasure Island. This is a free event supported by the Stanley and Frances D. Cohen Lecture Series.
ARTIST DEMONSTRATION | C. F. Payne
April 4, 11:15 a.m.
Artist-illustrator C. F. Payne will walk audiences through the steps he takes to create the illustrations that have graced the covers of Time, Readers Digest, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times Book Review, and many more. Free for members, admission pricing for non-members.
Accompanying Exhibition Catalogue:
The catalogue accompanying N. C. Wyeth: New Perspectives—co-published by Yale University Press, the Brandywine River Museum of Art, and the Portland Museum of Art—includes scholarly essays which examine multiple aspects of Wyeth’s life and work, providing a long overdue reassessment of the remarkable breadth of the artist. The authors include D. B. Dowd, Professor of Design and American Culture Studies at Washington University, St. Louis; David M. Lubin, Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University; Kristine Ronan and Karen Zukowski, both independent scholars. The exhibition’s co-curators, Christine Podmaniczky, former Curator of N. C. Wyeth Collections and Historic Properties at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, and Jessica May, Deputy Director and Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic Chief Curator at the Portland Museum of Art, are also contributors.
New Perspectives is made possible by the Josephine Schell Russell Charitable Trust, PNC Bank, Trustee; and The Sutphin Family Foundation. Operating support is provided by the Museum’s season funder ArtsWave and the Ohio Arts Council; the Western & Southern Financial Fund enables the Museum to offer free admission every Sunday. Additional exhibition support is generously provided by the Ellen and George Rieveschl Endowment, the Warrington Exhibition Endowment, the Chellgren Family Endowment, and the Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Endowment for Exhibitions.
About the Brandywine River Museum of Art:
The Brandywine River Museum of Art features a collection of American art housed in a 19th-century mill building with a dramatic steel and glass addition overlooking the banks of the Brandywine. Known for its holdings of the Wyeth family of artists, the Museum contains the largest collection of N. C. Wyeth’s artwork, and features galleries dedicated to the work of N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth. The Museum’s Heritage Collection presents a cross-section of American art with a special focus on artistic practice in the Brandywine Valley. For more information, visit brandywine.org/museum.
About the Portland Museum of Art:
With an extensive collection and nationally renowned exhibitions, the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is the cultural heart of Portland, Maine. The PMA boasts significant holdings of American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine—
About the Taft Museum of Art:
The Taft Museum of Art is one of the finest small art museums in America. A National Historic Landmark built in 1820, the Historic House was the home of several prominent Cincinnatians, including: Martin Baum, Nicholas Longworth, David Sinton, Anna Sinton Taft and Charles Phelps Taft.
Opening in 1932, the Museum is home to an extensive art collection that includes European and American master paintings, Chinese porcelains, and European decorative arts. See major works by Rembrandt, Hals, Goya, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner, Ingres, Whistler, and Sargent, as well as one of the greatest Gothic ivory sculptures in America. In addition to the permanent collection, the Museum features two special exhibition galleries, an outdoor garden, a shop and café, special events and programming, and on-site parking.
Standard Museum hours are Wednesday–Friday, 11a.m.–4p.m. and Saturday–Sunday, 11a.m.–5p.m.; Sundays are always free.
For more information, visit taftmuseum.org.
Cincinnati's Home for Art
Journey to Freedom: Art Quilts by Cynthia Lockhart on view through March 15
Up next:N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives on view February 8 through May 3
Museum open Wednesday–Friday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.