Charles Burchfield

The Four Seasons, Charles Burchfield, 1949-60

Surely some mistake to place Charles Burchfield in the Beyond the Pale category. After all he was hailed by Time Life magazine in 1936 as one of America’s 10 greatest painters. But Burchfield has been called a ‘visionary’ artist, and the museum named in his honour in Buffalo, talks about his ‘transcendental landscapes’. He was interested in depicting the sounds of nature as well as the purely pictorial and he thought nothing of showing all four seasons in a single  image. He worked for many years supporting his wife and four children as a wallpaper designer. He was good at it and received constant promotion. But fearing that the wallpaper would drive him mad and that the arrival of baby number five might further restrict his art ambitions, he managed to find a dealer in New York. His work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and recently a major show Heat Waves in a Swamp curated by Robert Gober for the Hammer Museum travelled to the Whitney. An interview with Robert Gober and Donna de Salvo can be found here.

Late Afternoon, Charles Burchfield.

Charles Burchfield, Autumn Fantasy, 1914-1946

“What is man composed of anyway? I shudder when I think of the bestial impulses that so often flood my imagination. I am considered a decent citizen because I manage to keep these mental debaucheries from becoming antisocial actions; but as far as I, a lone individual, am concerned, I am that depraved being. And perhaps these orgies of imagination are all the worse because they are never relieved by actions. Yet may God confine them always to the mind (if they must exist anywhere and it seems they must.)” —Charles Burchfield. Gardenville, April 10, 1938

Posted by Robert Armstrong


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