BR’s Toronto correspondent Lorne Opler has turned us on to an article in WaPo, written by Philip Kennicott, that shines a very positive light on the works of Buffalo’s very own Charles Burchfield. It’s a great article in that it is a reminder to all of us that the prolific artist needs to be held up on a higher public pedestal, aside from showcasing his works in the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
It’s funny, when I was younger, I was not a big fan of Burchfield’s work, and have only come to appreciate it later in life. Reading Kennicott’s article brought this revelation to my attention. I think that it was the muted watercolors that didn’t speak to me. But what I found lacking in the choice of color palette, was eventually overcome by the abundant vibrational energy that resounds in all of Burchfield’s works. While I have only come to discover the true nature of vibrational energy in recent years, it appears as if Burchfield embraced the theories and notions early on.
After years of work that charted small town and urban life, industrial sites and the waning architectural landscape of 19th-century America, he embraced an ecstatic animism, painting the natural world as if it were fully sentient and conscious.
The WaPo article permitted me to analyzing Burchfield’s works for the first time in years. I even played the works of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius on Spotify once I learned that Burchfield was a fan (trying to get into the brain of the artist).
Burchfield definitely perceived life in a different way than most people. In his works, even inanimate objects breathe with life… via this cosmic energy.
Reading the article, I was amazed to learn that Burchfield was “the first American to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.” I also found myself mesmerized with Burchfield’s work of art titled December Storm (featured in the article – lead image on this post). As I stared at the image, I could imagine myself standing in the field, watching that oh-so familiar Buffalo sky, with the ominous clouds, and the rays of sunlight bursting through.
He was fond of weather-beaten things, half-plowed streets, roofs fallen in, and the world seen in light that could be early or late, spring or fall, waxing or waning.
I am so happy that Kennicott pointed out some of the things about Burchfield that I had not come to fully grasp, until now. Burchfield is a hometown hero that needs to be celebrated more often. Obviously having a museum named after the artist is a huge acknowledgement of his life and works, but I think that maybe he should also be recognized with a large mural on one of the city’s blank walls, for all to see. December Storm perhaps?
Lead image: “December Storm” (1941-1960) by Burchfield. (Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Andrews, 1964/1966) | He embarked upon the work in 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor was bombed.