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Portrait of Christina Olson

(Andrew Wyeth, American Artist 1917-2009) “There she was without affectation – the quality of a Medici head.” – Andrew Wyeth Who can look away and not be changed by his last portrait of her: brutal, gripping, grotesque of features, redeemed only by her steadfast spirit. The nose large, strong, medieval; the forehead compressed, Neanderthal; the hanging jowls heavy, flaccid; the whole head poised solidly on the massive neck, like a bold capitol capped atop a column; and the mouth’s protruding lower lip, brooding, resigned. Yet more than these: the stare of that single eye closest to us –watchful, suspicious, mistrustful, menacing, almost contemptuous, as though she harbored some inner smoldering accusation against each of us, or perhaps our audacity, our presence, our peering into her privacy. Insensitive observers, drugged on common, pedestrian and superficial beauty, will find her ugly, an enigma, baffled that an artist like Wyeth would waste his gifts on her – so much for their ignorance. Yet hidden somewhere beneath that disfigured, heroic flesh, she wears her womanhood without apology, pretense, or feminine allure. Too magnificent for self-pity, she is in art what she was in life. In this her integrity remains inviolate, unassailable.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2022

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