Two exhibitions on the work of American artist Jamie Wyeth, located almost 1200 miles apart, give a complimentary view of his work at the Museums of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts and St Petersburg, Florida.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is exhibiting a broad retrospective of Wyeth’s work over the last sixty years. Wyeth studied anatomy in a New York City morgue and worked in Andy Warhol’s New York studio, The Factory. This was the period of his most innovative work as he developed his own style of portraiture with subjects such as his wife, Phyllis Wyeth; John F. Kennedy, Rudolf Nureyev and Andy Warhol. Thereafter he moved into painting landscapes of the areas where he works and lives – the Brandywine River Valley and the coast of Maine; somehow these have lost the promise of his early work, though his more recent paintings begin to show some of the techniques of his early portraits as they become more free and experimental.
Early in his career, Jamie Wyeth and the international ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev became good friends and Wyeth executed some of his most free-flowing work as he drew and painted the dancer over two decades. An exhibition of work from the collection of the from the Brandywine River Museum of Art is currently on show at the Museum of Fine Arts in St Petersburg, Florida, supplemented by a selection of Nureyev’s costumes and ballet slippers.
Two exhibitions – one a broad retrospective; the other focussed on one period and one subject. You almost need to see both to appreciate Wyeth’s work to the full.