LAURA J. HOPTMAN
In 1948 Andrew Wyeth produced what would become one of the most iconic paintings in American art: a desolate landscape featuring a woman lying in a field, that he called "Christina's World." The woman in the painting, Christina Olson, lived in Cushing, Maine, where Wyeth and his wife kept a summer house. She suffered from polio, and was paralyzed from the waist down; Wyeth was moved to portray her when he saw her one day crawling through the field towards her house. "Christina's World" was to become one of the most well-loved and most scorned works of the twentieth century, igniting heated arguments about parochialism, sentimentality, kitsch and elitism that have continued to dog the art world and Wyeth's own reputation, even after the artist's death in 2009. An essay by MoMA curator Laura Hoptman revisits the genesis of the painting, discussing Wyeth's curious focus, over the course of his career, on a deliberately delimited range of subjects and exploring the mystery that continues to surround the enigmatic painting.