Charles Burchfield Exhibit at Brandywine River Museum

Fifty of the painter’s works will be on view during this three-month exhibition



The vibrant, visionary landscapes of Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), one of the leading American artists of the 20th century, are the focus of the major exhibition “Exalted Nature: The Real and Fantastic World of Charles Burchfield” a premiere at the Brandywine River Museum Aug. 23-Nov. 16, which it co-organized with the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo. The exhibition will feature more than 50 paintings borrowed from important public and private collections across the United States. The exhibition will provide a remarkable opportunity to examine the artist’s luminous, spiritual interpretations of the world around him. Burchfield is best known for his watercolor landscapes, though, as a young man, he worked in Buffalo, N.Y., as a designer for a prominent wallpaper company. Fascinated by Buffalo’s streets, harbor, railroad yards and surrounding countryside, he adopted a more realistic artistic style. Burchfield’s foray into realism lasted for several years. He became friends with Edward Hopper in 1928, after Hopper’s essay on Burchfield appeared in the July issue of “Arts” magazine. Hopper wrote, “The work of Charles Burchfield is most decidedly founded, not on art, but on life, and the life that he knows and loves best.” In 1929, the Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries in New York City began representing Burchfield, allowing the artist to resign from his job as a designer to paint full-time. During this period, his works show optimism and an appreciation of American life. In 1930, his work was the subject of the Museum of Modern Art’s first one-person exhibition, “Charles Burchfield: Early Watercolors 1916-1918.” He was included in the Carnegie Institute’s 1935 International Exhibition of Paintings, in which his painting “The Shed in the Swamp” (1933-34) was awarded second prize. In December 1936 Life magazine declared him one of America’s 10 greatest painters in its article “Burchfield’s America.” In the 1940s, Burchfield returned to ideas begun in early fantasy scenes that he often expanded into transcendental landscapes. Burchfield, always probing the mysteries of nature in an attempt to reveal his inner emotions, once stated, “An artist must paint not what he sees in nature, but what is there. To do so he must invent symbols, which, if properly used, make his work seem even more real than what is in front of him.” He followed this artistic vision until the end of his life, creating some of his most mystical works. Burchfield’s artistic achievement was honored with the creation of the Charles Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College on Dec. 9, 1966, a month before his death on Jan. 11, 1967. (610) 388-2700, brandywinerivermuseum.org

 

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