From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Christina's World is the most famous work by American painter Andrew Wyeth, and one of the best-known American paintings of the 20th century. Painted in 1948, this tempera work is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It shows a woman named Christina Olson, who had an undiagnosed muscular deterioration that paralyzed her lower body, perhaps poliomyelitis, dragging herself across the ground to pick flowers from her garden. She is the subject of a number of other paintings by Wyeth, along with her brother.
The house in Cushing, Maine, where Wyeth had been staying when he saw the scene that inspired the painting, still stands, although Wyeth took artistic license in its depiction, separating the barn from the house and changing the lay of the land. Known as the Olson house, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
References in popular culture
- In the novel A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, Nomi Nickel hangs a Christina's World poster up in her room.
- It figures briefly on a postcard in the movie "The In Crowd" (2000) starring Susan Ward and Lori Heuring.
- The painting features briefly in the comic book series Preacher by Garth Ennis. Jesse Custer views the painting, his mother's favorite, at the Museum of Modern Art. There is another issue which itself is entitled "Christina's World"; the Glenn Fabry-painted cover is a reference to the original.
- A parody version of the painting appeared in The Simpsons episode "Springfield Up". The painting was identical to the real one, except for featuring Mr. Burns in Christina's place.
- In the DVD extras to the movie Tideland, director Terry Gilliam cites Christina's World as an inspiration in setting the backdrop and mood for the movie. The same extras claim that the author of the book was also inspired by this same painting.
- What appears to be this painting appears as a prop in performances of the Blue Man Group. The prop actually uses a removable Christina, which is revealed when removed with a vacuum.
- In 2000, MAD Magazine released its annual list of the "Dumbest People, Events, and Things" of the previous year. A full-page parody of the painting depicted Hillary Rodham Clinton in the field, with the U.S. Capitol in the distance, lampooning her campaign to become Senator from New York State.
- In the novel The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower by Stephen King, Jake's favorite painting.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episode S07 E06 Laserblast, a weird ugly alien dude with a gun arm, falls down and Tom Servo says "Ah, Christina's World 3001."
- In the pilot episode of Cinematic Titanic, Trace Beaulieu compares a shot to the painting and exclaims "Look it up."
- In the science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke 2001 A Space Odyssey it is one of the two paintings Dave Bowman sees hanging on the wall at the reception stage of his journey. Chapter 44 "Reception", page 237: "Van Gogh's Bridge at Arles was hanging on one wall—Wyeth's Cristina's World was hanging on another"
- The Dutch novel Want dit is mijn lichaam from Renate Dorrestein describes a fictitious story behind this masterpiece.
- The Invincible Iron Man Volume 4, issue 27 features a two page spread featuring an homage to Christina's World in which Iron Man is Christina and has been thrown by an explosion through the farm house leaving the ground upturned in his crash landing.
- In the 1994 film Forrest Gump the painting is briefly referenced when Jenny and Forrest return to Jenny's derelict childhood home. After flinging rocks at her house in anguish Jenny collapses and turns away in an homage to Christina's World.
- The contemporary artist Shag has an homage painting called "Christina's World" (after Wyeth)".