New Issue: Realist painter Andrew Wyeth commemorated on 12 stamps

Earlier this summer, 12 commemorative Forever stamps featuring iconic American realist painter Andrew Wyeth were issued by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to mark the centennial of his birth.

Wyeth, who was born July 12, 1917 in Chadds Ford, Pa., was remembered in his 2009 New York Times obituary as “one of the most popular and also most lambasted artists in the history of American art, a reclusive linchpin in a colorful family dynasty of artists whose precise realist views of hardscrabble rural life became icons of national culture and sparked endless debates about the nature of modern art.”

A first-day-of-issue ceremony was held July 12 at the The Brandywine River Museum of Art in Wyeth’s hometown. Participating in the ceremony were Wyeth’s son Jamie Wyeth; USPS Senior Director and Chief of Staff to the Postmaster General Patrick Mendonca; and Brandywine Museum Executive Director CEO Virginia A. Logan.

The set is available in panes of 12 stamps (shown above).

“The Postal Service takes tremendous pride in its stamp program, which celebrates the very best of American life, history and culture,” said Patrick Mendonca. “And since today is the centennial of Andrew Wyeth’s birth, it’s the perfect occasion to celebrate the man whose masterful works have found a place in our homes—and in our hearts. Wyeth’s work resonated with millions of art enthusiasts around the globe.  Now, these miniature works of art can touch many.”

PANE OF 12 FOREVER STAMPS

This pane of 12 Forever stamps celebrates the centennial of the birth of Wyeth (July 12, 1917-Jan. 16, 2009), one of the most prominent U.S. artists of the 20th century. Working in a realistic style that defied artistic trends, Wyeth created haunting and enigmatic paintings based largely on people and places in his life, a body of work that continues to resist easy or comfortable interpretation.

“My father, a prolific letter writer, would indeed be proud that a selection of his paintings now appears on U.S. postage stamps,” said Wyeth’s son Jamie. “He would have relished using them!”

The selvage shows a photograph of Wyeth from the 1930s. Art director Derry Noyes, of Washington, D.C., designed the pane.

12 PAINTINGS

This issuance includes stamps that each features a detail from a different Wyeth painting, including:

  • Wind from the Sea (1947);
  • Big Room (1988);
  • Christina’s World (1948);
  • Alvaro and Christina (1968);
  • Frostbitten (1962);
  • Sailor’s Valentine (1985);
  • Soaring (1942-50);
  • North Light (1984);
  • Spring Fed (1967);
  • The Carry (2003);
  • Young Bull (1960); and
  • My Studio (1974).

Christina’s World, inspired by Christina Olson, a disabled neighbour in Maine, is a rich and enigmatic work that inspired decades of interpretation. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City purchased the painting in 1948. Today, Christina’s World is one of the iconic works of 20th-century American art.

From the sale of Christina’s World to the sensational “Helga pictures” unveiled in the 1980s, Wyeth captured the imagination of the American public and established himself as one of the most prominent American artists of the 20th century.

ICONIC PAINTER

Wyeth received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990. Sites in Pennsylvania and Maine that influenced his work were recently designated National Historic Landmarks.

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