In the painting Independence Day, Andrew Wyeth portrays his longtime friend and neighbor Tom Clark sitting on a porch alongside a billowing American flag. Clark lived in a small African American community in Chadds Ford known as “Little Africa,” which had originated as a Quaker stop on the Underground Railroad. Beginning in 1957, Wyeth produced numerous drawings and watercolors of Clark, whose physical features captivated the artist.
The composition and lighting are dramatic and suggestive of the times. Painted in 1961 an important year in the civil rights movement I cannot help but think Wyeth was making a social comment here. I like this analysis of the work, “The composition isolates Tom Clark from the flag, but this flag is broad and expansive, and capable of extending freedom to all Americans.”
Happy Independence Day !!
Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) Independence Day, watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches
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