Happy birthday, Andy Warhol!
Andrew Wyeth: Christina’s World (1948), via MoMA
I had gone to lots of museums as a child—both in Pittsburgh, where I grew up, and in New York City, where my grandparents and aunts and cousins lived—but I don’t think I ever had a favorite painting until I saw Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
I was a kid, but not terribly young, maybe 13. The trip, as a whole, was transformative. I got to see Monet’s Water Lilies, which I had learned about in this wonderful children’s book, and I had my first encounter with abstraction, Pavel Tchelitchew’s Hide-and-Seek, which baffled and captivated me. But Christina’s World spoke to me. Partly because its subject, a pale thin girl with long brown hair gathered in a ponytail and a shell-pink dress, looked like me. But mainly because the yellowing expansive landscape, both beautiful and forbidding, the violent winds, and young Christina’s helplessness, crawling in the foreground, trying to reach her home that looked so impossibly far away, resonated with the kind of loneliness and fear that so many adolescents feel.
(The titular Christina in the painting was actually not some sad young girl, as I had assumed when I was young, but Wyeth’s 50-something polio-stricken neighbor, who preferred to crawl around the grounds to using a wheelchair. Said the painter: “The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless.”)
At the end of our visit, I went down to the gift shop and purchased a little postcard of Christina’s World, which I taped to my bedroom-closet door—among all the Kurt Cobain and Jared Leto and Degas ballerina images I had printed from the Internet—when I got back to Pittsburgh.
Model Ivy Nicholson poses in front of Marc Chagall’s painting “Le Soleil Rouge,” though her Claire McCardell dress look more Monet, no?
Photo by Mark Shaw, 1955
Frances Stark: “Conceited girl wants to know she has a seat (after Goya),” 2009, via Artspace
Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo: María Teresa (1638–1683), Infanta of Spain, ca. 1645
Man, kids these days have it so lucky, with their onesies and rompers and overalls. The Spanish princess María Teresa, who would later marry Louis XIV and become queen of France, had to wear heavy brocade and corsets at the ripe old age of 7.
Photo via the Metropolitan Museum’s website
Don’t lose your head to fashion! Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot by Herbert Matter, 1939