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Blistering Vision: Charles E. Burchfield’s Sublime American Landscapes

From January 29, 2021 to May 9, 2021

Location: Spotlight Gallery (Floor 1M)

Charles E. Burchfield (1893–1967) reverently captured the awe-filled grandeur of nature, along with the fierce, deceptive beauty of the industries that threatened it. Blistering Vision: Charles E. Burchfield’s Sublime American Landscapes brings together sketches and paintings of the New York landscape and turn-of-the-century industry. Because he was committed to capturing both, Burchfield’s paintings of nature and industry form a bridge between 19th-century aesthetics and the emergence of the environmental movement.

The 19th century was a time of change throughout America. The 20th century arrived with even more radical changes to the agricultural landscape, and the young Burchfield was a witness. Burchfield manages to communicate the tension between the excitement of progress and stimulus of new jobs and the loss of the natural pastoral environment at a time when conservation was not part of the cultural conversation.

As a young man, Burchfield was inspired by the works of naturalists Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) and Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Ultimately, he expressed his appreciation for nature through paintings, but his journals reflect his continued interest in environmental writing. This exhibition includes journal pages and sketches to give a complete picture of Burchfield’s drive to inspire reverence of the natural world.

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About the Artist

Charles Burchfield