Monday, November 16, 2009

Charles Burchfield

This is Charles Burchfield.

September Wind and R
ain, 1949

'An avid admirer of John Burroughs and Henry David Thoreau, who firmly believed in the presence of the divine in nature, Burchfield was less attracted to prim gardens and brilliant autumnal foliage than to the power of storms; the wild, decaying undergrowth found in ravines; and the muddy remains of a dying winter. Rather than celebrating a season at its peak, Burchfield preferred to paint the transitions between the seasons, particularly the change from winter into spring or from autumn into winter. ' -- From an essay on The Paintings of Charles Burchfield by Nannette V. Maciejunes and Michael D. Hall

There is a Charles Burchfield retrospective at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, through January 3, 2010.

“…Rain ceases at noon and afternoon is cold and windy with white-rifted cloud-rolls tearings out the Northern Lake. I could not concentrate my mind on my work. Once or twice I went outdoors and swelled with the cold buoyancy of the day. Leaves shooting streak-like thu the air! Leaf-cyclones capering in whirling course over the emerald grass! Half-nake trees wind riddled! Towards close of school while looking out of window I was delighted to note on how the shot like wind streaked over the flattened grass, the gloss spots of the rippling blades appearing like finely sifting snow! At 3:30 thru Park (1) to room. A sleet show wind whistled. Thence to Library (2) afoot. I walk head high & chest out exultant in the wind.”

-- Burchfield, October 26, 1914 (Thoughts for a rainy day)

Excerpts from Burchfield's journals, The Insect Chorus can be found here. The New York Times piece on the retrospective (his first on the west coast) is here.

His friend Edward Hopper once said of Burchfield:

"From what is to the mediocre artist and the unseeing layman the boredom of every day existence...[Burchfield] has extracted a quality that we may call poetic, romantic, and lyric.... By sympathy with the particular he has made it epic and universal."

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