A dear friend of mine – someone very special to me – had a birthday this weekend. So I emailed him an artwork that I knew would make him smile. It did 🙂 Then, while modeling today, it occurred to me that it might make a fun Museworthy Halloween post.

The work is a ‘self-portrait’ by Jamie Wyeth – son of Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth. Yes, it is a man with a pumpkin head. I will let Jamie Wyeth himself explain how this painting came to be, with an excerpt from an interview he gave with a public radio station in Boston:

“I had been elected to the National Academy of Design in New York, and one of the requirements was that you give a portrait, a self-portrait of yourself. Well, I didn’t want to do myself in a self-portrait, but I love pumpkins. It’s the sinisterness, the Halloween I’ve always loved. It’s a little bit edgy. So I did it and of course they were furious and rejected it.”

Pumpkinhead, 1972:


That Jamie Wyeth submitted this odd, quirky pumpkinhead as his ‘self-portrait’ membership requirement to a panel of stuffy academicians might be my new favorite art anecdote. A scion of a family of great artists, who have been unfairly dismissed by the fine art establishment as mere “illustrators”, submits an offbeat work instead of something safe and traditional. Gotta love it. Team Wyeth all the way!

Happy Halloween everyone! I’ll see you all very soon with cool stuff, photos, updates, drawings and dispatches from the modeling platform. Peace, friends.

Départ pour le Sabbat by Albert Joseph Pénot, 1910:


6 thoughts on “Pumpkinhead

  1. kdmedina says:

    Hi, Claudia!

    I’m glad you’re featuring the Wyeth. I love them all and agree that they are far more than illustrators. I really need to dig out my book of the Helga pictures, which I got the day it came out. And I have most of the Scribner’s NC Wyeth books…very romantic as they should be. King Arthur, Last of the Mohicans, Robin Hood, Treasure Island…

    Just sitting home envying the Cubs.

    • artmodel says:


      I remember that you’re a Wyeth fan! The Helga pictures are haunting, and how fortunate you are to have the N.C Wyeth works. His King Arthur is a particular favorite of mine. And yes, the whole they’re “just illustrators” thing is ridiculous. The fine art establishment snobs can be quite disdainful at times.

      I’m following the World Series too. Can the Cubs win two in Cleveland? I don’t know, but we’ll see!

      Thanks so much for your comments!


  2. Bill says:

    Very cool — I’ve always liked Jamie Wyeth. I think that I saw that painting in the Wyeth MFA show about a year ago.

    It’s comforting for the rest of us to know that even a Wyeth can have his/her art rejected. But, when you see him, please tell him that I’d gladly take it off his hands 🙂

    • artmodel says:


      Yes, it must be comforting that even a Wyeth can feel the sting of a rejection. Many great artists of the past, in fact. I guess in some instances it can be considered a badge of honor!

      Glad you got to see Pumpkinhead in real life. I’ve seen his father’s “Christina’s World” many times here in NYC at MoMA. It’s in the permanent collection.

      Thanks for commenting!


  3. artmodelandrew says:

    Pumpkinhead is a fun painting, but the backstory makes it even more fun. I remember you posted another Wyeth a while back, Man and the Moon by Jamie’s father, Andrew Wyeth.

    • artmodel says:


      You have an outstanding Museworthy memory! Thanks for the throwback post. Wyeth’s “Man and the Moon” is a terrific painting. All the Wyeths, truly, are such splendid artists. What a great contribution they’ve made.

      Thanks for commenting!


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