Christina’s World Stuck in a Corner at the MoMA
How would you feel if one of your best paintings was stuck in the corner? Well, this happened to Andrew Wyeth’s painting, “Christina’s World,” at the Museum of Modern Art.
When I went to the MoMA in New York for Labor Day (2014) I saw “Christina’s World” for the first time. It’s a painting of a crippled girl, suffering from polio, crawling through the fields back to her house. Andrew Wyeth was friends with Christina and the rest of the Olsen family, and he used them as models and inspiration for over 20 years. Seeing Christina crawl across the field inspired this painting, yet he didn’t paint it for quite some time…probably for about 30 years. Wyeth’s wife was the model even though Christina was the subject.
So, now that you know a bit of the story behind the painting, let’s get to the whole reason for this article. As I walked with my girlfriend through the MoMA I wasn’t too impressed, mainly because I prefer artwork created with sophistication and not slurpy-sloppings of paint…no offense Pollack. Really, I shouldn’t keep picking on Pollack, but some of the artwork in there will have you shaking your head in wonder (and that’s a bad thing). At one point I saw blank canvases being hung with just a frame. Another display was a snow shovel hanging next to a stool with a bicycle wheel on it.
Come on people, really?!
Anyway, I researched the paintings I wanted to see just as I did the last time (see Day 281)…I had Van Gogh picked out, Dali, Matisse, Magritte, Picasso…and there was one more I couldn’t quite remember. I kept telling Mandy that there was one more I couldn’t think of that I really wanted to see…and as we turned the corner, there it was. “Christina’s World” in all it’s glory. I’ve written an article about Wyeth’s paintings (see Day 246), and even made a trip to Chaddsford, Pennsylvania to take photos of the Kuerner Farm (see Day 356), so I can’t believe I forgot about this one.
But wait a sec, why is it in the corner by the elevators? Shouldn’t it be right next to other well-known masterpieces?? After all it’s “one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century.”
Just look at it. One of Andrew Wyeth’s most accomplished pieces…sitting in a bright, unflattering setting right by the elevators, a security camera, and an exit sign.
Sure, it’s still in a museum, and it’s a great achievement for any artist to be so honored, but come on. This is one step away from the bathroom hallway.
This guy looked at his phone for 5 minutes before he moved away to the elevators.
This is a bench right next to the painting. More people checking their Facebook status, and tweeting.
In the other room you’ll see a huge crowd around “The Starry Night” by Van Gogh, but then they’ll have a mediocre painting accompanying it (see left). Why can’t “Christina’s World” get the same honor and be in the presence of other master paintings? Why are they sticking the poor crippled girl in the corner? I know they have to usually match the genres of paintings, but come on? Find Andrew’s masterpiece a better home than an empty hallway.
Here’s the other side of Van Gogh’s masterpiece…some weird jungle scene.
If you haven’t seen an Andrew Wyeth painting in person, you’ll not be aware of his amazing detail. I got as close as I could get to this…
Here you’ll see even more detail when I crop into it…
More details showing the crows flying and the texture of the barn.
Here we can see the detail in Christina’s hands.
The location of a painting in a museum does matter. I’m sure they choose the location of paintings according to the lighting, the size of crowd it draws, and the period.
I just don’t think they are honoring Andrew Wyeth’s talent as much as they could be when they place his amazing painting of a crippled girl, in the corner. His painting shows the strength to overcome obstacles, freedom, and beauty. A heart warming message that has a deeper meaning than the majority of paintings or works of art in that entire museum. MoMA, please find this painting a better resting place!