With May flowers out in spring’s last burst of color, it’s a good time to look at Charles Burchfield paintings. And through the 27th, Debra Force Fine Art in New York will be showing a major private collection of Burchfields, consisting of 11 large-scale watercolors and one conté crayon drawing that relates to one of the paintings. The works are for sale, prices upon request.
Most of the paintings date from the 1940s and 1950s, though one, The Turn in the Road, was completed in 1918. (The collector began acquiring the group in the 1970s.)
Several of them exhibit the Ohio-born artist’s characteristic technique of enlarging a painting by adding strips of paper around the margins and extending the image onto them. And of course, they also display Burchfield’s trademark visionary symbols—strange faces peering out of shady glens, waves of vibrational energy pulsing in the sky and around trees and plants.
A typical example is Pine Trees With Oriental Poppies, shown here, in which the flowers bloom with an almost unnatural intensity.
Force credits the landmark exhibition “Heat Waves in a Swamp,” which originated at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in late 2009 and came to the Whitney in New York in the spring of 2010, for kindling interest in Burchfield. “A lot of people didn’t know about him till then,” she says. “It did a lot for his reputation.” —John Dorfman