Few artistic families have achieved the success of the Wyeths, with significant American painters in three generations: N. C. Wyeth, his son Andrew Wyeth, and Andrew’s son Jamie Wyeth. Rubin traces the life and exploits of these artistic generations, following the family’s creative tendencies generally (“Everybody in my family paints, excluding possibly the dogs”) and focusing specifically on the lives of N. C., Andrew, and Jamie. As usual, Rubin has performed extensive research, including interviews with Jamie Wyeth, and the book is rich with quotes about the Wyeth family’s life and art, so the daily life of painting and country pastimes is vividly conveyed. What’s missing, however, is any additional perspective—it’s rarely made clear how an artist’s work related to ongoing artistic modes or what influence it left outside of the family, so readers may not learn why the Wyeth family is of interest in the first place. Additionally, the book never explicitly justifies its focus on the three most famous Wyeths in light of the stated artistry of the whole family (Carolyn Wyeth in particular seems to get short shrift, with her teaching of Jamie a greater focus than her own artistic career). Layout is elegant and austere, with contrasting, often white text against colored pages, and most spreads include a crisply framed reproduction of a Wyeth work (though actual photographs of the Wyeths are disappointingly sparse). Novices will need more context, but readers looking to imagine an artist’s life for themselves or just keen to hear the stories behind some of the twentieth century’s most iconic images may be intrigued by the human and artistic portraits here. End matter includes a list of locations of Wyeth artwork, a list of sources, and an index.
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Rubin, Susan Goldman. Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family. Chronicle, 2014. 105p illus. with photographs ISBN 978-0-8118-6984-3 $16.99 Ad Gr. 6-10.
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