Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Olson house is no longer real. It has gone beyond reality into some iconic State of Maine Mind, along with crashing surf and lobster dinners and the noble moose. Some of this has to do with Andrew Wyeth himself, who painted with a sentimentality that ranged from bracing to boring. The rest has to do with our worship of icons, living or otherwise. We seem to need physics to refresh spirits. Seeing and touching and photographing a house conjours up the faith in what that object means.
So it's easy to confuse Christina's World and our world. And that is Wyeth's genius, whether you agree with it or not. He took the ordinary and made it iconic, he painted one place hundreds of times and made it universal. I don't particularly like the way he gets there, but the sanctity of the effort can make me weep. On the day that Ted Kennedy is put into the earth, I am proud to worship in the house of commitment.