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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


About the Author

David Livewell
dlivewell West Deptford, NJ, USA

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.

Publish Date  March 02, 2010

Dimensions  Standard Landscape  68 pgs   Standard Paper

Category  Arts & Photography

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Comments (3) Write a comment


ebeebe says

I found Woven Light an interesting and delightful book to read. David's poems and photographs gave me a new insight to Andrew Wyeth's internal thoughts that inspired his paintings made on Pennsylvania landscapes and on people he portrayed in his work. Woven Light belongs on every persons coffee table who have heard of Andrew Wyeth so they can enjoy and share with friends.

posted at 10:32am Mar 27 PST


ronvitale says

Every once in a while I stumble upon a work that captures the essence of art in a quiet and pure form. I purchased a copy of David Livewell's "Woven Light" and was amazed at the photography and the beauty of its poems. Livewell's book takes the reader on a journey through Andrew Wyeth’s historic Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, revealing the "private symbolism that captivated the artist his entire life."

As a lover of art, I was aware of Wyeth's prominence as an artist, but I had never had the opportunity to explore the meaning behind his works in more detail. One of Wyeth's famous paintings, Christina's World, is stark and jarring. A young woman lies in a field, positioned in an odd manner. There is a story to be told in her movements, but the viewer takes in the view, wanting to know more.

In "Woven Light," Livewell, painstakingly captures, through his own photography, the essence of Wyeth's paintings, showing the scenic landscape of Chadds Ford and then interpreting that beauty through poetry. The result is a beauty to behold. Quiet, yet powerful Livewell delves into Wyeth's secret world, transforming the ordinary world we know into one full of potential and grace. A great companion piece for any Andrew Wyeth enthusiast, I would also recommend the unfamiliar to gander down the pages of this book and travel through the imagination of the spacious and pure fields of Chadds Ford relieving a time of contemplation and peace.

posted at 06:19pm Mar 22 PST


SeanScotwell says

I came across Woven Light through a friend who works at an art museum gift shop in Philadelphia. I found this site only after doing a search of the author’s name. I mention this because I have never before left a comment on a website, but I was so impressed after reading this book I decided I needed to help spread the word!

Woven Light is my favorite kind of book, the kind that leaves you with a sense of discovery. For me, there was the discovery of a new author, to be sure, but also the sense of relearning what I thought I knew. I’m no expert on twentieth-century art, but living in the same region as Andrew Wyeth, I’ve known his paintings for many years. Mr. Livewell has taught me to discover in them things I never considered before. Given the attention to detail throughout the book, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Mr. Livewell is himself a painter. One shouldn’t assume, however, that these poems are merely descriptive of Wyeth’s paintings. Read a couple of the samples above. Notice how the form, very rigorously followed throughout the book, is unobtrusive, almost camouflaged. So are the themes Mr. Livewell develops. They sneak up on you as you go along, and soon enough, you’ve learned to look at Wyeth’s paintings in a new light.

I’ll admit the book is a little pricey, but how often do you come across something like it? The photographs alone are a valuable resource for those mostly interested in Wyeth’s art, and I can imagine such persons spending much time happily comparing paintings and photographs. That being said, it is the interaction of painting, photography, and poetry that makes this book so unique. Can you think of anything quite like it? I can’t. Mr. Livewell deserves to be supported for having created a work of art that is engaging, accessible, and--what is most surprising--quietly profound. Buy this book!

posted at 07:56pm Mar 18 PST


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