Saturday, October 9, 2010

What I Really Should've Written Last Night

As soon as I got home I got wind of the crazies coming to my part of town and was so distracted by my anger that I didn't even think to say how wonderful I thought the exhibit I went to see at the Whitney Museum is. Friday nights are 'open late, pay what you wish' at the Whitney. Betsy and I got there around 7 pm to see the Charles Burchfield exhibit before it closed next week. The curator is Robert Gober, a great artist and nice guy that I was fortunate to meet up in Maine a few years back. It's wonderful to see he is thinking about this painter, who inspired me a decade or more ago and who is often under-recognized.

Burchfield's life-long work shows a shifting emphasis between his drafting skills and inventive form. His medium is watercolor, doing it in a way that is completely his own, and often with a density that may make it look like oil painting when seen in reproduction. My favorite early works are those that are highly evocative of a sensation, an experience of the environment.

His images of western NY state towns and industry appear menacing at times, always in dark grays, blues, and white. They have a density and mood that recalls for me early van gogh.

Later in life, freed from certain representational constraints, and in no way completely unconnected from the movement of abstract expressionism, he moves into a wildly energetic symbolist landscape painting that reminds me of Samuel Palmer.

Samuel Palmer
Charles Burchfield

The exhibition is up for one more week, closing on the 17th. You also have one more opportunity for 'open late, pay what you wish' next friday. Enjoy.

1 comment:

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