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'The Real and Fantastic World of Charles E. Burchfield' opens at the Brandywine River Museum of Art
Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), Untitled (Gothic Window Trees), 1918, Watercolor and graphite on paper, 11 x 10”, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald A. Ross, 1986.
CHADDS FORD, PA.- The vibrant, visionary landscapes of Charles Burchfield (1893-1976), one of the leading American artists of the 20th century, are featured in a major exhibition of more than 50 paintings on view at the Brandywine River Museum of Art from August 23 through November 16, 2014. Co-organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, the exhibition features works borrowed from museums and private collections across the United States, including the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the largest repository of the artist's work. A fully illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition, with essays by the co-curators, Audrey Lewis, associate curator at the Brandywine, and Nancy Weekly, head of collections and Charles Cary Rumsey Curator at the Burchfield Penney.
Exalted Nature: The Real and Fantastic World of Charles E. Burchfield will provide a remarkable opportunity to examine the artist's luminous, personal interpretations of the world around him. "To spend even a moment with one of Charles Burchfield's hallucinatory watercolors is to experience the artist's visceral response to nature. Over a period of six decades, he explored the lyrical and technical potential of watercolor, becoming one of the most brilliant practitioners in the history of American art," said Thomas Padon, director of the Brandywine River Museum of Art.  
A native of Ohio who spent much of his career in Buffalo, Burchfield was enthralled by the countryside from childhood, keeping detailed journal accounts of his observations and emotional reactions to his surroundings, a practice he continued throughout his life and which carried over into his paintings.   
Vibrant with color, light and movement, his landscapes combine the real and fantastic, reflecting his immersion in the natural world and his response to the forces of nature. Burchfield infused his paintings with sensory reactions to the ephemeral effects of light, the sights and sounds of the weather, the seasons, the call of birds and the hum of insects. In 1915, he wrote "It seems at times I should be a composer of sounds, not only of rhythms and colors. Walking under the trees, I felt as if the color made sound."
Exalted Nature will span the breadth of the artist's career, tightly focused on his landscapes--from his early expressionistic compositions influenced by modernist movements first encountered during his student years at the Cleveland School of Art--such as Untitled (Gothic Window Trees), 1918--to his late visionary works representing his singular interpretation of the world--including Bee Hepaticas, ca. 1962.

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