Monday, August 10, 2015

Has Jamie Wyeth paid V.L. Cox the ultimate form of flattery?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 7:44 PM

click to enlarge Warhol, by Wyeth.
  • Warhol, by Wyeth.

You may have read in the newspaper Sunday that Jamie Wyeth says he's embarked on some new artwork using screen doors. His first such work is a portrait of Andy Warhol, who was a good friend of Wyeth's. From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

What's next for Wyeth? Or is that a secret?

"No, not at all," he says, laughing. "I'm wildly excited about what I'm working on now. I've always been fascinated by screen doors. I'm taking real screen doors, painting people behind them. The first one is Andy ... it's kind of ghostly. The idea bothers some people ... they come into the house, see the door, open it ... 'Oh my God, there's someone behind there.' I'm getting completely carried away with that."

Door by V.L. Cox.
  • Door by V.L. Cox.
If you follow Arkansas art at all, you know there is an artist here who has been painting people behind screen doors for a while: V. L. Cox, whose "Images of the American South" series features portraits of people she grew up with, dogs, squirrels, all behind screen doors to which she has attached artifacts of the period: Grapette signs, chewing tobacco ads, etc. 

So Cox is thinking of a new door in the series: One of Jamie Wyeth behind a screen door. She messaged me:

I've been thinking all day. I am so honored that Jamie Wyeth thinks enough about my screen door series, I am going to paint a special door this week. One of him standing behind one. Healing, positive, and in gratitude. If he can paint Warhol behind a door in honor of him, I can do the same. 

Cox was not feeling so gracious earlier. Her Facebook post:

Artists all the time are inspired by other work, but downright copying a series and claiming it as your own is not acceptable. With his recent visits to Arkansas, and the established, visual level of my work in this state, I find it difficult to believe this is any type of coincidence. ...

A Wyeth retrospective on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Wyeth gave a sold-out talk at the museum the night before its opening, so he's been in Arkansas. It's possible he bumped up against a Cox screen door.

Wyeth loaned his screen door painting of Warhol to the Brandywine Museum eight weeks ago, the museum posted on its Instagram account. The museum said it was inspired by "his work with tableau vivant." (His three-dimensional work includes his 1/6th-scale diorama of Truman Capote and Joanne Carson at La Cote Basque, which he created in 2013.)   

Perhaps it's just an instance of great minds thinking alike. At any rate, Cox has taken a short break from her "End Hate" series to do the Wyeth door. Expect to see a wooden pumpkin and a crow, references to Wyeth's paintings, worked into the door.

Haven't called Wyeth for a response. Maybe tomorrow.


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