Charles Burchfield images
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Charles Burchfield

See also: American Art


"After studying for four years in Cleveland and briefly in New York, Charles Burchfield returned to his hometown of Salem, Ohio, in late 1916. He began to paint in his spare time, using the landscape to convey his own moods and feelings. Following his two months in New York, his rural surroundings had a special resplendence for him. No longer a student, he now considered himself a professional artist, and he later described 1917 as his "golden year." He ceased his earlier practice of making a primary pencil sketch to be filled in with watercolor. Now he brushed colors directly onto paper and created the freest and most lyrical works of this first phase of his career. Paradoxically, this expansive freedom was accompanied by his compilation of a notebook entitled "Conventions for Abstract Thoughts" - small pencil renderings representing about twenty darker states of mind, such as Imbecility, Fear, Fascination of Evil, and Dangerous Brooding.

"While Noontide in Late May contains in its windswept tree and flowering bushes graphic stylizations that relate to some of these abstract conventions, it is hardly morose, but rather exuberant in mood. From a commonplace scene (the artist's rural Ohio backyard) Burchfield developed a dynamic, almost exotic, reality. The drab wood fence and building are not so much contrasted with the power of nature as suffused by its radiant beauty. Burchfield described the work, in a penciled note on its reverse, as "an attempt to interpret a child's impression of noon-tide in late May - The heat of the sun streaming down, and rosebushes making the air drowsy with their perfume." His poetic description only begins to evoke the work's tempestuous harmonies and its resonating sequences of patterns, colors, and shapes."

- By Patterson Sims, from Whitney Museum of American Art: Selected Workes from the Permanent Collection


Charles Burchfield Images

1917 Noontide in Late May
1956-59 November Sun Emerging

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