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Wyeth's Worth

September 14, 1986

I'm bemused by the acidic hostility that colored Wilson's commentary on Andrew Wyeth. He doesn't like him. OK . . . de gustibus .

But Wilson's opinion seems suspect, desperate with anxiety that he's drifted out of the mainstream of American painting the critic exists to influence.

His comments on Wyeth's work seem preposterous. He's certainly the best-known living American painter; whether he's also the best is a question history will decide, not critics.

But the rhetoric Wilson's used to challenge this is appalling. "He cannot turn a volume in space and his compositions are so reliant on relative relationships . . ."? That's simply culture-babble. He must know that.

With respect, Wilson should be ashamed. Painting is technically defined as representing three dimensions in two. Wilson says Velasquez did it better; he's widely regarded as the best painter that ever lived.

I expect Wyeth might be content to stand behind him.


Beverly Hills

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