On May 16, he opens an exhibition at the Farnsworth's Wyeth Center called "Jamie Wyeth – Seven Deadly Sins," in which he uses the common gull as a metaphor to explore the sins of envy, anger, gluttony, sloth, lust, greed and pride.
It's a subject that artists have toiled with for centuries, and something Wyeth himself has contemplated for at least four decades since fixating on a series of paintings by Paul Cadmus in the hallway of the Manhattan home of Wyeth mentor Lincoln Kirstein.
Cadmus' paintings impressed Wyeth in a horrifying way, and he's been thinking of them off and on ever since.
The gulls presented themselves as a metaphor for the work, because Wyeth lives with them on a daily basis. For many years, he has obsessed over the birds. He detests that so many painters depict gulls as beautiful white doves, "when in fact they are vicious scavengers, and they're edgy."
He gives an assessment of his father's paintings, calling them "very disturbing and very strange. It's a curious, air-less world that he created. It's going to be a while for people to assess, really, because he was almost primitive in a way." I was not aware that the father and son were so close. The article gives us the feeling that they had a close personal and professional relationship.
Comment: The seven deadly sins are not often spoken of in our culture. We wail against the greed that got us into this economic mess, but no one calls it sin. Our pride lets us think we're better than "those people" and leads us to treating "them" as less than human instead of another one of "us." These things that separate us from one another and from God are real failings and we become like those "vicious scavengers"--the gulls, that Wyeth paints.