Poems and Photographs from Andrew Wyeth's Pennsylvania
by David Livewell
About the Book
What were the poignant stories and places that ignited Andrew Wyeth’s most powerful paintings and helped define his vision of Pennsylvania and its history? Through poems narrated in different voices and exclusive photographs of Wyeth’s beloved Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, readers can journey through the private symbolism that captivated the artist his entire life. Revisit his iconic landscapes, objects, houses, and models. From different perspectives, and for the first time in print, view the famous “hook room” in which Wyeth painted his first important portrait of Karl Kuerner in 1948, the German helmet from "Pine Baron," the model from "Roasted Chestnuts," and the untouched attic room where his neighbor, Helga, secretly posed for fifteen years.
When he died at 91 in 2009, Wyeth’s past remained a living repository brought to bear on the present through his mysterious and deceivingly complex compositions. Chart how the transformative power of his phenomenal visual memory manipulated perspective and, when necessary, even altered reality to achieve his highly personal vision. To the artist, memory was as woven as his fibrous watercolor paper or the painstaking layers of his tempera panels. The poems and photographs in this collection celebrate his metaphoric quality and revivify familiar subjects now transformed by time. What drove this artist to paint every day of his life—from the age of nine all the way into his ninth decade? One of the longest and most detailed artistic careers in the history of art will continue to delight and astonish. As artist Bo Bartlett says in his introduction, David Livewell’s Woven Light “reveals the deeper layers of Andrew Wyeth’s art. These words will be a joy to those familiar with the specifics of Wyeth’s subjects and will bring a new awareness of the paintings to a broader audience.” In the long history of poems taking their departure from paintings, this book offers a unique meditation on how the historic Pennsylvania landscape of Wyeth’s childhood catapulted his artistic genius to the world.
“What a fine set of poems about my paintings. They are powerful statements and deeply moving to me.”— Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)
“I have written music about a number of my brother’s paintings, so when I read these poems I feel music in all forms— quiet pathos and glorious crescendos. They speak eloquently and with great depth.”— Ann Wyeth McCoy (1915-2005)
“These poems see beneath and beyond the surface of the paint. In the vernacular, David Livewell ‘gets it.’ His words reflect insight into the great man’s palette...and life. These poems are ‘wondrous strange’ themselves.” —Peter Ralston, photographer and Wyeth family friend
“David Livewell has the alert, divining eye that Andrew Wyeth’s paintings call for. He captures the detail of each picture admirably, and the brooding romantic atmosphere of some of them.” — Richard Wilbur, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet and former Poet Laureate of the United States
David Livewell is married with two children and works as an editor in his native Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry, The Sewanee Review, The Yale Review, The New Criterion, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, and in the anthology Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005). He was a recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts poetry fellowship and occasionally teaches writing and poetry at La Salle University.