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

January 29 – May 9, 2021

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.

Grain Elevators

New Moon, N.D.

Deserted Miner's Home, 1918

The Red Pool with Fragments

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. 

This exhibition was organized by the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY.

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