DC Moore Gallery is pleased to present Charles Burchfield: Solitude, an exhibition highlighting 14 works created predominantly between 1917 and 1957 that give visitors a remarkable opportunity to examine the artist’s vibrant landscapes, which reveal his luminous, spiritual interpretations of the world. Over the course of five decades, Charles Burchfield (1893 – 1967) created paintings that were inspired by the seasons, natural world, and small-towns around him. Many decades later, Burchfield’s works continue to intrigue the contemporary art world with their intensely personal and almost mystical approach. A keen observer, he found evidence of the divine in the natural world, and of the universal in the particular. He felt strongly that his identity was bound up with his relation to nature, and, in many ways, his empathy with his environment defined both his life and his art.
From 1915 to 1919, Burchfield created landscape paintings to express what he felt were the fleeting moments and moods of nature. In Black Void (1917), Burchfield has painted the woods at night. There is a dense, dark sky hanging behind rolling hills, which are animated by angular trees in almost theatrical slants throughout. His long walks in nature left lasting, sometimes melancholy impressions on him. Inscribed on the verso of the work, Burchfield writes “An attempt to express a vague feeling rather than a fact. It is the feeling of black north woods, or perhaps the void of North itself. It comes to a boy in remembrance, or can almost be seen out of the corner of his eye; but if he looks directly, it is gone.” Burchfield was interested in capturing the memories and fantasy from being a youth in nature, and he would continue to weave different moods into his paintings throughout his career.
Leading up to and during the 1920s to the early 1940s, Burchfield somewhat moved away from his lyrical expressions of the landscape, and began to favor depictions primarily of small-town life. He concentrated on houses, and industrial sites, such as railroads, scrap iron piles, and grain elevators, revealing his interest in architectural forms, at times desolate and dilapidated. Though he was moving towards realism at this time, while working predominantly on these scenes, he still created highly imaginative landscape compositions, continuing the thread of the isolated experience in nature. His preferred medium of watercolor allowed for versatility and liveliness in his work. Burchfield also developed an unorthodox way of working with the medium, overlaying dense strokes, sometimes abrading the paper, that gave the work a drama and strength.
By the mid-1940s, Burchfield was largely creating landscapes again, with a meditative, introspective approach to the spiritual potential found in nature. Burchfield increased the scale of his works, and combined realism and expressionism, culminating in fantastical scenes, elevating nature to wild and supernatural realms.
DC Moore Gallery is the exclusive representative of The Charles E. Burchfield Foundation.
Charles Burchfield has been the focus of numerous museum exhibitions, including an exhibition of early watercolors at the Museum of Modern Art in 1930, the Whitney Museum of American in 1956, 1980 and 2002, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1990, and the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio in 1997. The latter exhibition, titled The Paintings of Charles Burchfield: North by Midwest, traveled to the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. and was accompanied by a monograph by Nannette Maciejunes and Michael Hall. Recent exhibitions include Heat Waves in a Swamp, curated by the artist Robert Gober, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2010); and Charles Burchfield: The Ohio Landscapes, Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (2019). Burchfield’s work is represented in every major collection of American art in this country.
This exhibition runs concurrently with Mary Frank: ¿Or Was It Like This? (January 9 – February 8, 2020). DC Moore Gallery’s next show will feature monumental paintings by Romare Bearden in Abstract Romare Bearden, which will be on view from February 13 – March 28, 2020.
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