It was great to see so many of you tonight in our art class on Charles Burchfield.
He really resonated with a lot of you, and the conversation about his work and style was quite spirited, with fantastic observations on his evocative style and varied images.
Like the great Italian glass artists Pino Signoretto, Lino Tagliapietro, and Livio Seguso, Burchfield pushed his medium (watercolor) in a way that hadn’t been done before.
Many of you loved his use of tone and color, while others of you were enamored with his beautiful skies, often so moody and cloud filled, reminiscent a bit of Turner & maybe calling to mind a touch of Canaletto. His loose brush strokes evoke movement and comparisons to the Impressionists in general and Van Gogh in particular.
Burchfield’s early work designing wallpaper in a sense parallels Grant Wood’s forays into textile design, and we can wonder at his influence on later artists (perhaps Hockney’s images of rural England and his Grand Canyon series…)
Some of you were quite taken with Burchfield’s extensive journals. He wrote notes on what he saw on location as well as writing on how inspiration took him while he worked. Whether he was working in watercolor, gouache or even the occasional oil, (all of which we will discuss at the start of next week’s class), he brought an emotional depth to his work that touches each of us in a different manner. How can you not be impressed by an artist who surrendered himself so much to his painting that at one point he
wrote that “the picture took the lead and I had to follow as best I could”?
An artist who explored many styles before truly finding his voice, Burchfield was quite prolific, leaving a treasure trove of thousands upon thousands of drawings, numerous journals, and nuanced watercolors behind.
Once he signed with Rehn Galleries in New York in 1929, he was off and running. I thought you might be interested in one of the paintings the Rehn sold in 1960, and that passed down by descent
until the last owners decided to sell it at auction in May of 2018. Dated “1917-45” with a note that the original study, made over ninety years ago May 22, 1917, was “incorporated in picture”, this painting, CHERRY BLOSSOM SNOW, is definitely a much kinder and gentler snow than we had here last weekend.
With lovely brush strokes invoking the wind, blowing spring’s white blossoms off the tree, and bending the heads of dandelions down below, CHERRY BLOSSOM SNOW has that beguiling
contrasting sky in the background. It’s no wonder that this work surpassed Christie’s pre-auction estimate of one million dollars to sell for $1,812,500.
It was great to see so many of you this evening and I’m glad that the work of Charles Burchfield really struck a chord with you so much. I hope you can join us next week when we look at the differences between watercolor, gouache and oil, before continuing our look at the works of Charles Burchfield, his friend and colleague Edward Hopper, and the self proclaimed “least Pop of the Pop artists” Robert Indiana.
If you like, we are showing another great film this Friday, FACES PLACES, starring French New Wave film director Agnes Varda & muralist JR.
It’s an interesting road movie as the seemingly unlikely duo hit the pavement, creating portraits & images of the people they meet.
See you next time!