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The painter Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) is considered part of the American Regionalism movement, which emphasised scenes from everyday life in the United States. However, the realistic style had mostly faded out of fashion during his career, as the US art world moved towards Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. In this video essay, Evan Puschak (also known as the Nerdwriter), synthesises a wide array of primary sources – including an interview with Wyeth, his sketches, and the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson – to help contextualise Christina’s World (1948), Wyeth’s best-known painting. In doing so, Puschak argues that Wyeth’s work was the visual culmination of ‘a new American philosophy’, derived from an awe of the natural world as viewed by an unseen observer – what Emerson in 1836 called ‘a transparent eyeball’ that sees nothing, and sees all.
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