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Charles E. Burchfield : the sacred woods

Author: Nancy Weekly; Burchfield Art Center.; State University of New York at Albany.; Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.)
Publisher: Albany : State University of New York Press, ©1993.
Edition/Format:   eBook : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Charles E. Burchfield: The Sacred Woods explores the underlying spirituality of American painter Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967). Author Nancy Weekly, the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator of the Burchfield Art Center, traces the evolution of his art and philosophical fluctuations. She identifies his affinity for developments in 19th century art and literature, including pantheism, luminism, romanticism, and
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Genre/Form: Electronic books
Exhibitions
Additional Physical Format: Print version:
Weekly, Nancy.
Charles E. Burchfield.
Albany : State University of New York Press, c1993
(DLC) 93004689
(OCoLC)28149684
Named Person: Charles Burchfield; Charles Ephraim Burchfield
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Nancy Weekly; Burchfield Art Center.; State University of New York at Albany.; Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.)
ISBN: 058508890X 9780585088907
OCLC Number: 42856308
Notes: "Corporate sponsorship by Marine Midland Bank, N.A., Foundation sponsorship by the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, Inc., and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation; public sponsorship by the New York State Council on the Arts."
The Drawing Center, New York, New York, June 15-July 30, 1993 and others.
Reproduction Notes: Electronic reproduction. [S.l.] : HathiTrust Digital Library, 2010. MiAaHDL
Description: 1 online resource (120 p.) : ill. (some col.)
Details: Master and use copy. Digital master created according to Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials, Version 1. Digital Library Federation, December 2002.
Responsibility: by Nancy Weekly.

Abstract:

Charles E. Burchfield: The Sacred Woods explores the underlying spirituality of American painter Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967). Author Nancy Weekly, the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator of the Burchfield Art Center, traces the evolution of his art and philosophical fluctuations. She identifies his affinity for developments in 19th century art and literature, including pantheism, luminism, romanticism, and transcendentalism. The book celebrates the 100th anniversary of Burchfield's birth. It is complemented by 40 color plates and 60 black and white illustrations.

Burchfield was born in 1893 in Ashtabula, Ohio, and grew up in Salem, Ohio, which is depicted in youthful studies of nature, painted until he graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1916. His early work shares decorative compositional qualities with 19th century Japanese woodblock prints and reveals the influence of prevalent pantheistic philosophies and the literature of American authors, such as Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. During 1917, which Burchfield called his "golden year," he exaggerated nature's sounds and movements in synesthetic, animated fantasies and invented a highly personal set of symbols he called "Conventions for Abstract Thoughts" to represent dreaded human emotions such as fear and morbidness.

Surprisingly, during the 1920s when Burchfield still harbored the doubts of his youthful apostasy, he produced a small number of prints, drawings, and paintings based on Biblical subjects. After designing wallpapers for the M.H. Birge & Sons Company in Buffalo, New York from 1921 to 1929, the artist resigned to devote himself fully to his painting, encouraged by Frank K.M. Rehn of New York, who offered to be his art dealer. Burchfield became known as a painter of the American Scene, the champion of unpretentious small town life, as well as the urban documentarian who recorded the ennui of a man-made landscape, often being compared with his Rehn Gallery colleague, Edward Hopper.

Dissatisfied with painting realistically, Burchfield returned in the 1940s to his fanciful style of 1917 and expanded old ideas, even the actual paintings themselves, into larger and more meaningful interpretations of nature. A lifetime of spiritual soul-searching and self-doubt, the recurrence of serious illnesses, and the steady persuasiveness of his wife, Bertha, led to Burchfield's eventual adoption of the Lutheran faith in 1943-44. Autobiographical, romantic landscapes of this period contain his symbols for man's place in the universal scheme.

Majestic, transcendental evocations of the power of nature characterize the last decade of Burchfield's works. The pinnacle of Burchfield's aspirations is evidenced in his concept of a Mystic North, an imaginary, legendary place of deep mystery and elusive tranquility that he found in the secluded woods of the Western New York countryside. This, coupled with significant childhood memories provided hope for eternal peacefulness and serenity in paintings that are truly visionary. In April 1964, Burchfield wrote, " ... [I] will always be searching [for] the ultimate statement. It is better so. The search for a truth is better than the realization. North is an arbitrary term - It is the Pole that my imagination yearns for - "

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