|Type||Tempera on gessoed panel|
|Dimensions||81.9 cm × 121.3 cm (32¼ in × 47¾ in)|
|Location||Museum of Modern Art, New York City|
Christina's World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth, and one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century. It depicts a woman lying on the ground in a treeless, mostly tawny field, looking up at a gray house on the horizon; a barn and various other small outbuildings are adjacent to the house.
The woman in the painting is Christina Olson (3 May 1893–27 January 1968). She is known to have suffered from polio, a muscular deterioration that paralyzed her lower body, although other diagnoses, in particular Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, are also possible. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while watching from a window in the house. Wyeth had a summer home in the area and was on friendly terms with Olson, using her and her younger brother as the subject of paintings from 1940 to 1968. Although Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting, she was not the primary model — Wyeth's wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting. Olson was 55 at the time Wyeth created the work.
The house depicted in the painting is known as the Olson House, and is located in Cushing, Maine. It is open to the public, operated by the Farnsworth Art Museum; it is a National Historic Landmark, and has been restored to match its appearance in the painting. In the painting, Wyeth separated the house from its barn and changed the lay of the land.
Reception and history
Christina's World was first exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in Manhattan in 1948. Although it received little attention from critics at the time, the painting was quickly bought by Alfred Barr, the founding director of MoMA, for $1,800. Barr promoted the painting at MoMA and it gradually grew in popularity over the years. Today, it is considered an icon of American art and is rarely loaned out by the museum.
Appearances in other media
Arthur C. Clarke made reference to "Wyeth's Christina's World" in his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. David Bowman noticed the painting (along with Van Gogh's Langlois Bridge at Arles) when observing the living room of "an elegant, anonymous hotel suite" after travelling through the Stargate. In Garth Ennis's graphic novel Preacher, the lead character's mother (also named Christina) connects with "Christina's World" on a personal level concerning her family history; the painting is shown a few times throughout the series. In the fourth novel of Stephen King's series "The Dark Tower", one of the gunslingers is reminded of this painting when one of his company finds a new wheelchair. In 1996's Romeo + Juliet (dir. Baz Luhrmann), when Romeo is informed by Balthasar that Juliet is dead, he falls into the golden grass on the ground before a setting sun and screams, "Then I defy you, stars!" The camera pauses above and behind him so that he and the trailers on the hill appear exactly in position as the classic painting.
The painting also features in the 2013 film Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. In the film, the painting has survived an apocalyptic war against extra-terrestrial aliens and is admired by the characters portrayed by Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylenko.
- Christina's World in the MoMA Online Collection
- Corliss, Richard (1986-08-18). "Andrew Wyeth's Stunning Secret". Time. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
- "The Olson House". Farnsworth Museum.
- Kimmelman, Michael (January 16, 2009). "Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- Esaak, Shelley. "Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth". About.com. Retrieved 5 May 2012.