Sung Dynasty Burchfield

Burchfield

White Picket Fence, watercolor with charcoal and chalk on joined paper, Charles Burchfield

Also from the current Harper’s magazine, a glimpse of an exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco. In my view, more than almost any painting he did, other than one particular landscape in the phenomenal Whitney retrospective, (Heat Lightning,) this work fulfills Burchfield’s lifelong yearning to be a classic Chinese scroll painter It’s a bug he picked up while working as a guard at an Ohio museum. Every time I go back to his work, it looks more vital and original and somehow accurate. It shows you what’s actually there, not just what’s there to be seen. ThoseĀ  intense green marks of refracted sunlight at the top of the tree, echoing the little green notes at the bottom: you can almost hear this painting and feel the Indian Summer heat. I always imagine Burchfield, toward the end of his career, saying, “Oh, to have lived a thousand years ago in China.” I say, “Oh to be Charles Burchfield.”

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