French photographer Joséphine Douet is inspired by the same Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania landscapes and people that inspired American painter Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). Wyeth Wonderland, an exhibition of Douet’s photographs of the rural region that Wyeth made his oeuvre, is augmented with his watercolors, on loan from Adelson Galleries.
For this exhibition, Douet has selected twelve of the painter's drawings and watercolors to pair with photographs in the Wyeth Wonderland series. Some of these comparisons are direct, as in a portrait of the same sitter, years later. With others, she was drawn to an aesthetic synergy she felt when looking at Wyeth’s and her images together. Douet first undertook the Wyeth Wonderland project as a commission from the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which was organizing a retrospective of the work of Andrew Wyeth and his son Jamie in 2016. Douet’s admiration for Wyeth dated back to her childhood, so she was eager to travel across an ocean to immerse herself in Wyeth’s hometown, which she found in harmony with her own place of origin, Normandy, and where she would source much of his material.
Taking a journey through Chadds Ford, a photographer in a painter’s footsteps, Douet felt the place unchanged since Wyeth worked there. She spoke to some of the people who had known Wyeth, as she sought the secret of his sensibility: “I have constructed close and profound relations with the people of Chadds Ford and also with Andrew Wyeth’s former models, sharing amazing moments with Helga, his secret muse for fifteen years.” Viewing Wyeth’s scenes through her camera’s lens gave Douet insight into Wyeth and helped her find a new touch for her own photograpy.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, Wyeth Wonderland: Josephine Douet Envisions Andrew Wyeth's World, looks afresh at the land and people of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, made famous by Andrew Wyeth. Illustrated with 37 color images of Douet s photographs and Wyeth's watercolors and drawings, paired with comments by the photographer and quotations from the artist, the publivcation reflects on a rural way of life and a sense of place in a contemporary society. An essay by Curator Laura Vookles and a transcript of a conversation with Douet presents the genesis of this photography project.