This documentary has a really good natural flow, kind of like the grass in Wyeth paintings. It explained details such as how the grass is actually painted, as opposed to what critics said about the grass. It explained much broader aspects of his life and work, such as what inspired him.
The most debilitating thing for any artist of any medium is to feel constrained, so Helga actually made sense. That was a delicate subject that could have gone a thousand different directions, but the filmmaker kept it very matter of fact and objective, leaving out any salacious tones or details.
WYETH does a deep dive into Groundhog Day and Christina’s World. I remember being taught about Christina as a child, but I never actually knew what created her physical impairment. And I never understood why only a knife was on the table for Groundhog Day, and not a fork or spoon. Who eats with only a knife? This film gets into all of that. The part about Christina sitting on a stack of newspapers sits with me, and makes me rethink the real value of steadfast pride. It also makes me appreciate modern day conveniences like plumbing that we indefinitely take for granted.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Andrew Wyeth’s work, or you think you know everything about him and his work already, I think there’s definitely something to be taken away from this documentary. It covered topics like his place in the artistic community as broad strokes, subjects like Helga as detailed strokes, and also included finely-tuned details such as how he painted his grass.
WYETH is showing on PBS American Masters starting Sept 7th, and then will also be available on VOD. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/wyeth/ Trailer: