I always love a good art novel or magazine to keep me connected to my passion while on the road, so I was THRILLED THRILLED THRILLED to randomly come across “A Piece of the World” in an LA Airport kiosk last week.
Based on Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World, author Christina Baker Kline absorbs us in all of the eeriness, tragedy, joy, hope and love evoked by the painting itself. She sets Christina as the central character and gives us some insight into why she might be in that bleak landscape, seemingly at once trying to escape and also crawl back.
I’ve always had my emotional socks knocked off by the painting, so the novel didn’t increase my love of the work. But it gave me huge insight into Wyeth’s intent and the incredible success of his portrait.
As an artist, I also loved the vivid descriptions of Wyeth’s process:
In sketch after sketch Andy focuses on the house. Silhouetted against the sky, a blot of smoke rising from a chimney. Viewed from a drainpipe, the cove, the eye of a seagull over-head. Alone on the hill or surrounded by trees. As large as a castle, as small as a child’s playhouse. Outbuildings appear, disappear. But there are constants: field, house, horizon, sky.
Field, house, horizon, sky.
She describes Wyeth’s eventual decision to bleed colour out of his works to increase their emotional impact and haunting quality. And I loved this quote:
Intensity – painting emotions into objects – is the only thing I care about,” [Wyeth] says.
I finished the book on my flights, earbuds untouched. Thanks to Christina Baker Kline for a work of art in words, and a treasured addition to our bookshelves!