Andrew Wyeth 1917 - 2009
- Andrew Wyeth
- signed Andrew Wyeth, l.l.
- drybrush on paper
M. Knoedler & Co., New York
Amanda K. Berls, New York, 1968 (acquired from the above)
Ruth Yerion, New York (by bequest from the above)
Acquired from the above, 1989
New York, Coe Kerr Gallery, A Tribute to American Realism: The Collection of Amanda K. Berls and Ruth A. Yerion, January 1976, illustrated
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum, The Collection of Amanda K. Berls and Ruth A. Yerion, January-March 1980, illustrated
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum, Ericksons, December 2003-April 2004
Philip Isaacson, "Wyeth: An American Phenomenon," Maine Sunday Telegram, August 2, 1970, p. 5D, illustrated
"Art-The World of Wyeth," Newsweek, August 1970, pp. 54-57, illustrated in color
Mizue, no. 820, 1973, illustrated
Executed in the summer of 1968, Bikini was the first work Andrew Wyeth painted featuring Siri Erickson. Wyeth had first met Siri in the fall of 1967, when she was just thirteen; the artist and his wife Betsy had stopped by George Erickson's farm to inspect an interesting out building on his property for possible purchase. While George and Betsy scouted the barn, Andrew noticed Siri, the Finnish farmer's blonde daughter, standing in a doorframe holding her cat and began to sketch her.
The January after this chance encounter, Wyeth unexpectedly returned to Cushing for the funeral of Christina Olson, his friend, frequent model and the subject of the iconic painting, Christina's World. On his way back towards the Olson's property after the funeral, Wyeth noted that the Erickson house was surrounded by enormous pines and thought, "'God, that little girl's in there.' I was really hanging onto the thought because I realized that this moment was the end of the Olsons. All the rest of the day I kept thinking how that young girl was there" (as quoted in Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, New York, 1976, p. 172). Siri filled the void left by Christina and assumed the role as Wyeth's model for the next ten years. Wyeth's biographer Richard Meryman notes "The end of the Olson's left an anxious emptiness in Wyeth....[Siri] was a true continuation of Christina. Instead of a crippled woman hidden in a disintegrating Maine house, he now had a beautiful, blossoming young girl, hidden in another dilapidated house" (Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life, p. 307-309).
When Wyeth returned to Cushing for the 1968 summer season, he immediately began painting Bikini, which, much like his first encounter with Siri, depicts her standing in a doorframe. Light reflects off her tousled hair blowing across her shoulders, partially concealing her face. Fourteen year old Siri leans against the barn door in her bathing suit; her pose, with her back to the viewer, shields her feminine form while the bright colors of her bikini emphasize her exposed flesh. The recognizable sexuality present in Bikini quickly evolved, and Wyeth soon began painting intimate nude portraits of his young model.