Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sister Wendy

Have you ever seen Sister Wendy Beckett? She's a gem. A Catholic nun that has lived her life mostly in seclusion for years, she came on the scene in the early mid-90's as an astute art critic. Her television series, Sister Wendy's The Story of Painting, (1996) is referenced in many art history survey courses in many American colleges. I've yet to see her other PBS series, Sister Wendy's American Collection. (2001) or Sister Wendy's Grand Tour: Discovering Europe's Great Art (1996). In the past several years, she visited the most famous American Art museums to critique paintings, including Boston! She was also interviewed by Bill Moyers.

Unfortunately, Sister Wendy is often the subject of many a spoof on YouTube. Not only is she distinctive looking--- short, with buck teeth & glasses--- but she also has a clipped British accent that's tempting to imitate. Certainly one can't resist giggling to see a nun standing in front of a bulging fig leaf, or a bare naked lady, with a delighted grin. It's also funny to see her floating about in her habit, gliding along & lurking about in the world's most famous art museums. She cuts a strange figure. As Bill Moyers said, it's hard not to see the irony of a secluded nun becoming a television personality.

When it comes to analyzing art, though, the Sister is right on the mark. She speaks as a layman but has a wide breath of knowledge about art and history. Sister Wendy delves into certain 'subjects' you'd think our fair sister would not broach. But she does, & admirably well. Some gossip about the artists! She thoroughly loves art, & is true about it, & her enthusiasm is infectious!
Interviewing with Bill Moyers

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