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Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  246 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
"A revelation. No one will ever view Andrew Wyeth's apparently tranquil works the same way again after reading this vivid and astonishing portrait of the turbulent, driven man who paints them. Richard Meryman has written a wonderful book."
- Geoffrey C. Ward
At its most fundamental level, this stunning and unique biography describes a distinguished painter's enterprise of
Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 21st 1998 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1900)
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(showing 1-30 of 440)
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Oct 22, 2012 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What is art?

I don't claim to be any sort of expert. I am not gifted in that realm of visual arts. But I find that, like writing, it tends to be very subjective.
What speaks to one person will not necessarily appeal to another.

What I do know is Andrew Wyeth has always appealed to me. I've always understood the starkness of his landscapes, the loud yet subtle emotion of his simplicity ... the expressions of his models.

This book scratched an itch in that I always long to know more about who creates
Mikey B.
May 06, 2013 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing


Spring Fed

This is an extraordinary portrait of the American artist Andrew Wyeth. The author followed Andrew Wyeth since the 1960’s and it shows.

It’s a very personal view of the painter and his upbringing – his family, his wife Betsy , their children and the models he used. It is quite stunning to learn of the various influences that affected the paintings of Andrew Wyeth. We do feel the essence of this painter as the author describes the creation and generation of his works.

First and fo
Jun 27, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it
This biography was written thirteen years before the death of Andrew Wyeth. It was quite complete, starting with Wyeth family history with much about N.C. Wyeth and his influence on his family. After N.C.'s death the book concentrated on Andrew. Since the 1960's, I have appreciated the works of Andrew Wyeth. I saw beauty and solitude in his work. I loved the Helga series. The author of the biography described the work as being full of hate and anger and violence. I much prefer my interpretation. ...more
Nov 13, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing
Wyeth is a true artist in every sense of the word. A genius, but probably not one I'd want to live with. Fascinating biography, which I don't generally like a whole lot. You get snippets of the other famous Wyeths as well (N.C. and Jamie). This is one American dynasty I can be happy about.
Trish Dorsey
Jul 11, 2015 Trish Dorsey rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. Were I more "art aware" I'd have gotten even more out of this, but I very much enjoyed the insight into this man, his family, and his work. Who knew there was a Needham MA connection as well? Now I have to
get to the Farnsworth!! Finished in three days.
Oct 01, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing
A pretty comprehensive telling of the life of Andrew Wyeth, his work and relationships. He certainly was a complicated man torn between life and art, but yet down to earth at the same time. There are a lot of images included making referral to the work being described easy.
Susan Poling
Jan 05, 2008 Susan Poling rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes biographies and watching a character grow before their eyes.
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
I read this after a trip to Lime Rock, Maine where Fred and I wandered through the Wyeth Museum that had three floors of paintings in an renovated New England home. Each floor was dedicated to a different Wyeth. Andrew on the second, N.C. Wyeth (his father) on the main floor and James (his son) on the lower floor.
I really liked this book. It was easy to read, very down to earth....It was very interesting to se how the times and parenting influanced each artist. It was interesting to learn about
May 25, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it
I love biographies, especially about artists. Remembered seeing an exhibition of his work in NYC while I was in college. It still stays with me. A local museum is having a Wyeth exhibition in June & I wanted to read about him. Very creative but complicated family starting with the patriarch N.C., who was a famous illustrator. Andrew was his son & always felt under his father's thumb. It affected his other relationships & his painting. Andrew's son Jamie also fell under the family cur ...more
Sep 21, 2013 Trailhoundz rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
To be honest, I'm surprised at all the rave reviews of this book! It is well written but I found it WAY too long and I found it a real snooze-fest. Every person who had ever crossed into Wyeth's life- every agonizing family detail- the minute details of every place he lived, every relative, every friend, every thought-- is gone into with excruciating intimacy. If you are a huge Andrew Wyeth buff you might be interested but I found myself putting the book down way too much in favor of others. Aft ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Brady rated it liked it
I've always loved Wyeth's art and wanted to learn more about what motivated and inspired his work which is why I read this biography. It's filled with details of his family and friends and models and art but the writing was mechanical. As much as Merryman wants readers to understand the emotion, rage, secrecy of Wyeth's paintings there's no feeling in the book. There was no connection for the reader to the players in the story.

Did I learn about Andrew Wyeth? Certainly. Did I enjoy the course? N
Mary Ann
Oct 02, 2007 Mary Ann rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Art history people, folks interested in Pennsylvania and Maine history
Andrew Wyeth is my favorite artist. When I was in college, I did an art history course about him. As a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I also have visited the Brandywine River Museum, where many of his works and those of his family are housed (Wyeth lives in Chadds Ford and Maine). This book is a treasure trove of Wyeth family history--they are perhaps one of the more accomplished families in U.S. history. It also discusses, in-depth, Wyeth's technique, motivation and relationships with his s ...more
Dec 11, 2014 Marcie rated it liked it
Too detailed. And confusing in parts. Stopped reading about 1/4 way through.
May 12, 2013 Hk rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating book about an amazing artist with an equally interesting family, extended family and circle of friends. Meaningfully arranged for maximum impact of life events and artistic works shared. Fed but also peaked my interest for even more on this American icon. Highly recommended for Wyeth fans and those who enjoy a beautifully done biography. I'll miss it... it has been ages since I've been so intensely engaged by a book.
Fran Fisher
Nov 29, 2015 Fran Fisher rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
More interesting and educational than I expected. Wyeth is a man dedicated to craft first, and family second.
Kathy Whipple
Oct 04, 2008 Kathy Whipple rated it it was amazing
This is a study of the quintessential artistic family. Although lines are blurry between reality and imagination, there can be no doubt that Andrew's early childhood shaped his creativity. I love the paintings of Andrew Wyeth, and his father NC. I am always facinated by the fine line between creativity and insanity or the tormented life. There are numerous examples--Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickenson, Mozart.... AND Andrew Wyeth.
Val Olson
Jan 30, 2011 Val Olson rated it did not like it
I live just a few miles from where Andrew Wyeth lived before his recent death, and in fact, drive past his home 5 or 6 times a week. I enjoyed were the local details of the book, but didn't think much of the writer's style. What impressed me most about Wyeth, as with other masters' of a skill or a calling, was his single-mindedness. All his relationships seemed to be in the service of his art, which he pursued with dogged focus.
Christopher Newton
Feb 27, 2014 Christopher Newton rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Overly long, filled with profiles of tangential characters and interviews with every model and second cousin who happened to drop by for dinner - still, it's full of insight into the artist's temperament and the iron-bound armor Wyeth donned to keep the world at bay so he could get some work done. It's a scanner but full of treasure for aspiring artists of every discipline -- if you keep on keeping on..
Barb Lathroum
Mar 03, 2014 Barb Lathroum rated it really liked it
This was an illuminating biography. I never realized how much Wyeth's seemingly controlled paintings reflected his emotional life. After reading this, I wanted to revisit the Brandywine Museum and examine the Wyeth paintings more closely.
Howard Mansfield
Dec 18, 2011 Howard Mansfield rated it it was amazing
Richard Merryman’s father was a well-respected painter. Merryman understands artists and he understands large families. In this absolutely engrossing biography Merryman gets inside Wyeth. He shows us the artist in the act of painting -- the hair on the back of Wyeth standing up as he paints what he is feeling. He didn’t just paint his paintings, says Merryman, he lived in them. A great book.
Jul 07, 2009 Rustam added it
An interesting biography of an artist who resisted all the influences of "modern" art through the 50's, 60's and 70's, and still somehow came out on top as a critically acclaimed American painter. I don't generally like biographies too much, but felt like this was a must-read when I stumbled onto it at the bookstore in June, just a month or two after he died.
Justine Highsmith
Dec 08, 2008 Justine Highsmith rated it really liked it
Andrew Wyeth is a modern American master and one of the greatest artists of all time. Anyone who is a fan of his work will enjoy reading about his little known personal life, and the intimate relationships between his family members and the models who inspired many of his most famous paintings.
Jul 25, 2011 Gretchen rated it it was amazing
. This is a remarkable biography of Andrew Wyeth. It is impressive in its depth and insight. Unfortunately, it isn’t told in chronological order, so it would be a good idea to go to the internet and get a reliable chronology of his life & paintings to use as a guide when you read it.
Nov 04, 2008 Shannon rated it really liked it
Basically explains about his life, how he grew up in the eyes of his father, N.C. Wyeth, a famous illustrator who was strongly influenced by his mother and Howard Pyle. Also, more about his life and his works. If you are interested in his works and this artist, recommended!
May 04, 2007 kimberly rated it it was amazing
A favorite Maine painter of mine, this book is so fun to read. Andrew's life is full of mystery and magic and horror...and all that feeds his art. I love his search for the "realness" in people and things.
Nov 06, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it
This revealing portrait of Andrew Wyeth really took me by surprise. His work seems so calm - I was unaware of the "fury" lurking beneath. One of the better biographies I've ever read.
Mar 24, 2009 Derek rated it it was amazing
An absolute gripping look into the great American painting family, and the power that NC Wyeth had over it, resulting in Andrews secretive, beautiful and angst-ridden persona.
Feb 04, 2008 Kerren rated it liked it
Interesting to look into his life. Any biography of an artist should include more pictures in my opinion though.
Feb 11, 2008 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
I met the author and liked him almost as much as I like Wyeth. Why do I like old salty codgers?
May 22, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
This book feels like Wyeth’s paintings: muted, with hidden meaning that tugs at your unconscious.
Jul 30, 2008 Saralee rated it it was amazing
BEYOND!!!! This is such a great biography of one of our great American painters.
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