last week we picked up andrew wyeth’s “helga pictures” for $5 at the local friends of the library bookstore. i’ve been wanting it for a while but it’s expensive so finding it for so little was a dream come true.
why am i fascinated with wyeth’s helga? how could i not be? she was his model from 1971 to 1985. when they began helga was 38, my age, and 53 at the end. she is his eternal spring set amongst the snows.
while his temperas are beautiful, i’m most excited by his watercolors. that’s my medium and i work in a mostly tight, controlled manner with occasional breakouts. so wyeth excites me because his watercolors are also controlled with moments where you see and feel his meticulous brushwork.
from composition, expression, color, and linework, i consider new ways of working everytime i look at his paintings.
helga’s braids~ her braided hair takes on a meaning all it’s own for wyeth. and in his way he tells us much, but conceals even more. he does not take us by the hand, but walks silently beside us while we wonder what is the meaning of these things?
his indebtedness to dü
rer is apparent here. the color and execution are reminiscent of durer’s, “self portrait with fur,” which itself is reminiscent of portraits of christ. while dü
rer was consciously comparing the role of the creating artist to the role of a creating god, we are left to wonder if wyeth is doing the same. helga’s hair is unbound, like a german christ and she is clad in a sheepskin coat, her hands in pensive contemplation. here, helga is his saviour, artistically and personally.
… or maybe she’s a woman in a coat. and that, is one of the many delights of visual art.
if you would like to know a little more about andrew wyeth, this site is useful, as well as having prints of his art to purchase: andrew wyeth prints