January 23, 2011

Art review: Maine perspective on art transition displayed in Farnsworth exhibition


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“Mischief Night,” a 1994 watercolor by Andrew Wyeth.

Images courtesy Farnsworth Art Museum

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Kenneth Noland’s “Mysteries: Primal Blue,” 2002, acrylic on canvas.

Additional Photos Below




WHERE: Farnsworth Art Museum, 16 Museum St., Rockland. (207) 596-6457; www.farnsworthmuseum.org

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday

WHEN: Through April 3

COST: Adults $12, students and seniors $10,free for 16 and under

At first glance, "Munch's Closet" could hardly be more different from Andrew Wyeth's "Mischief Night" (a star of the concurrent Andrew Wyeth winter exhibition) that shows a jack-o'-lantern in an empty room reflected in the window. But in the end, both works slip back and forth between play and somewhere mysterious -- even sinister. Both are firmly bracketed to important American figurative painting with roots in Maine. And both revel rather indulgently in the opulence of painting.

It's easy to lose yourself in front of Andrew Wyeth's work: Its metaphysical dreaminess has the power to dislocate you almost instantly. But seeing it in the context of American modernism is a great reminder of its brilliance. I was especially reminded of this while viewing a couple of his works never before shown at the Farnsworth, including a masterful pencil drawing of a cormorant and a nocturnal landscape with haystacks.

I was stunned by the drawing because Wyeth worked the pencil over the curves of the bird so many times that the paper itself was sculpted to follow its contours. Looking at the drawing, you can practically feel Wyeth etching the forms into his mind.

These two shows at the Farnsworth are certainly handsome enough if you want to indulge your eye, but they offer a thoughtfully smart side as well if you care to stimulate your brain. 

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:



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Additional Photos

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Richard Bosman’s “Munch’s Closet,” 2002, oil on canvas.


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