The Helga Files
1985-1987. The publisher's files (Art & Antiques magazine) for the breaking story of "The Helga Pictures," Wyeth's previously secret cache of 245 paintings and drawings, many nude, of his neighbor in Chadds Ford, PA. Included are:
  • the transcript of the 1985 interview with Wyeth by editor Jeffrey Schaire in which Wyeth first divulged the existence of the unknown work. 24 pages. This interview was for a story on Wyeth that Arts & Antiques ran the year before the Helga story graced their cover.
  • a second copy of the 1985 transcript, marked and annotated in preparation for extracting the story from the conversation.
  • a partial handwritten transcription of the 1985 interview, with notes on images to be used, 7 pages.
  • a photocopy of the press release for the 1985 article, with edits shown.
  • a printout of the typescript of that first article, "The Unknown Andrew Wyeth."
  • a printout of the typescript of the 1986 Helga article, entitled "Andrew Wyeth's Secret Paintings."
  • storyboard-type layout of the text and images to be used in the 1986 article.
  • two mockups for the layout of the 1986 article, the first draft using the title of the 1985 article and unrelated text, but with the Helga pictures; the second adding the actual title and text.
  • 11 proof prints and 3 photo positives of Helga images, most stamped as property of Time magazine; with a black and white proof of their cover story, which reported (as did Newsweek) on the revelation of the Helga pictures a week after Arts & Antiques broke the story.
  • the typesetting of what seems to be the publisher's (Wick Allison's) introduction to the Helga piece in the 1986 issue, lightly copyedited.
  • five pieces of correspondence, 1985-1988, from the photographer on the story, Peter Ralston, to the author, Jeff Schaire.
  • two snapshots of Andrew Wyeth with Jeffrey Schaire, taken by Susan Gray at the 1987 showing of "The Helga Pictures" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., along with Schaire's invitation to the preview.
  • three letters from Mary Adam Landa, curator of the Wyeth Collection in Chadds Ford.
  • the radio transcript of Helen Hayes's piece on Wyeth (for her syndicated program "The Best Years") from 1985, in which she reported on the first Arts & Antiques article, without mentioning the foreshadowed cache of secret paintings.
  • two file folders full of the fall-out from the Helga story: fan mail and kudos (and some snarky commentary) from other publications, galleries and individuals; press clippings; arrangements for publicity appearances and a proposal for a video; numerous clippings of cartoons and parodies.
Wyeth had always been controversial: dismissed by critics and beloved by the public. The Helga story revealed the depth of this chasm, as the 1985 report of an unknown body of work by a major American painter was shrugged off by the art establishment, only to sweep the headlines of popular culture a year later, as Helga became ensconced in the public imagination. Later, the art historian John Wilmerding wrote, "Such close attention by a painter to one model over so long a period of time is a remarkable, if not singular, circumstance in the history of American art." The story of the Helga pictures was one of the most compelling and widely reported tales of an American artist since Jackson Pollock made headlines in the 1940s and '50s. This is the unique, original file that broke the story that eventually made the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. But for some isolated dampstaining, the archive is near fine or better. [#030152] $3,500

All books are first printings of first editions or first American editions unless otherwise noted.