Wyeth Wonderland: Joséphine Douet Envisions Andrew Wyeth's World

February 25–May 14, 2017

French photographer Joséphine Douet is inspired by the same Pennsylvania landscapes and people of Chadds Ford that inspired American painter Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009).

Wyeth Wonderland, an exhibition of Douet’s photographs of the same rural region where Wyeth made his oeuvres, is augmented by his watercolors, on loan from Adelson Galleries. For this exhibition, Douet has selected twelve of the painter’s drawings and watercolors to be paired with photographs in her Wyeth Wonderland series. Some of these comparisons are direct, like one pair of portraits sharing same sitter. Others share an aesthetic synergy felt by Douet.

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 James Wyeth 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.

Read more

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 gave Douet insight into him and helped her find a new touch for her own photography.

In the Museum’s catalog Wyeth Wonderland, photographer Joséphine Douet and curator Laura Vookles talk about the genesis of her journey and photography in Chadds Ford, among them scenes of farms set in low hills, the faces of working men and profiles of young women, the architecture of roofs, doorways and windows, and the animals who inhabit the landscape. Douet said, “My decision to follow in Wyeth’s footsteps and to photograph what he painted and his relationship with his home arose from a combination of my admiration for him and my love for artistic challenge.”

Joséphine Douet. Rubber Ivy, 2015. Photograph. Courtesy of the artist.