Christina’s World – Wyeth’s homage to strength of will

Together with his family of artists, Andrew Wyeth was a prominent member of the American art scene of the 20th century, creating some iconic paintings that have gained a place of honor in everyone’s mind, thanks to the hundreds of references and homages spread through pop culture.
Christina’s World is, perhaps, his best-known artwork; why? Let us find out together.

Christina’s Story

Even if you don’t know the story that lies behind Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, you are probably wondering where you have already seen this artwork.
And that’s completely normal, because it is one of the most referred-to paintings ever – even the Simpsons have showed it once or twice!
On display at the Museum of Modern Art, Christina’s World depicts Anna Christina Olson, Wyeth’s neighbour at his summer home; she was crippled by polio, and when he saw her crawling on her garden, her strength struck him: he decided to capture her in this powerful, iconic painting that has made its way to our hearts.

Why Christina’s World is everyone’s world

Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948

Has it happened to you, even though your life story is different from Anna Christina Olson’s, to be able to feel the painting as if it depicted you?
Apparently, that is a common feeling.
But why is that? How does a painting such as Christina’s World, where you can’t even see the eyes of the only person depicted, attract us so much?
Well, first of all the fact that Olson is giving us our back makes us see what she sees. She is not steadily showing us a landscape: she is taking us with her, showing us her struggle and effort to reach her own house.
We are seeing with her eyes how far the house looks, how high the hill she has to climb, we can feel the pain and effort it will take to reach it.
And yet, it’s her house and her field, so she has done it before and she will do it again, fighting her own limits everyday.
This is why Christina’s World is so powerful: it is a hymn to resilience, strength and willpower. It is proof that your mind is stronger than your body, that you can reach anything, no matter how far and impossible it seems.
Andrew Wyeth was able to enclose all these feelings in just one painting, making us witness a disability that becomes strength.