Jamie Wyeth— seven deadly sins


Jamie Wyeth— seven deadly sins
Jamie Wyeth—
seven deadly sins
May 16–August 30, 2009
16 Museum Street
Rockland, ME 04841
The Farnsworth Art Museum celebrates
Maine’s role in American art
Jamie Wyeth, Pride (Seven Deadly Sins), 2008; combined mediums on hand-wove, toned paper
mounted on archival board; 34 1/2 x 24 1/4 inches; private collection;
courtesy Adelson Galleries, New York
THE EXHIBITION of Jamie Wyeth’s 2007 series of paintings,
The Seven Deadly Sins, is a rare example of a contemporary
artist taking on a subject long associated with the history of
Christian art. The subject’s focus is human frailty—specifically
the sins of pride, envy, anger, greed, sloth, gluttony and lust—
codified as the seven deadly sins in the writings of the late
thirteenth-century Dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas. Dante
dealt with the theme in his famed Divine Comedy, Chaucer in
his The Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s contemporary
Christopher Marlowe in his plays. Perhaps the most famous
painted treatment of the subject is that of the sixteenth-century
Dutch painter Hieronymous Bosch. By the twentieth century,
however, the subject had disappeared from artists’ repertoires,
only to be revived in the 1930s by the playwright Bertolt
Brecht and choreographer George Balanchine.
It was Cadmus’ surreal 1945–49 paintings of the seven deadly
sins that inspired Jamie Wyeth, decades after first seeing them,
to do his own series of paintings on the theme. Wyeth’s take
on the subject, however, is characteristically his own—the sins
are acted out by seagulls, birds the artist has observed for
decades along the coast of Maine and from his studios on
Monhegan and Matinicus islands. As he noted in an interview
for the exhibition, “gulls are nasty birds, filled with their own
jealousies and rivalries.” The exhibition will focus on these
seven paintings, accompanied by written and visual materials
that place Wyeth’s work within the subject’s long iconographic
Shown for the first time since their premier in New York in
2007, the paintings will be on view in the Wyeth Center from
May 16 through August 30 before traveling to the Brandywine
River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Wyeth’s
monumental painting, Inferno, Monhegan, will also be included.
Organized by Farnsworth Interim Director and Chief Curator
Michael K. Komanecky, the exhibition will be accompanied by
an illustrated catalogue.
This exhibition is funded in part through a generous donation from the Adelson Galleries.
The primary media sponsor for Jamie Wyeth—Seven Deadly Sins is Down East magazine, books, & online