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Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield

June 24–Oct 17, 2010

Curated by Robert Gober

Charles Burchfield, An April Mood, 1946–55. Watercolor and charcoal on joined paper, 40 × 54 in. (101.6 × 137.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with partial funds from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence A. Fleischman  55.39.

Charles Burchfield, An April Mood, 1946–55. Watercolor and charcoal on joined paper, 40 × 54 in. (101.6 × 137.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with partial funds from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence A. Fleischman 55.39.

Although he lived next door to Niagara Falls, artist Charles Burchfield (1893–1967) chose to focus his nature-based art on the ground beneath his feet. Curated by artist Robert Gober, this exhibition features over one hundred major watercolors, drawings, oils on canvas, sketches, notebooks, journals, and doodles by this visionary American artist. Acclaimed by critics and known to a broad public audience during his lifetime, Burchfield is curiously under-appreciated today. Working almost exclusively in watercolor, Burchfield’s primary subject was landscape, often focusing on his immediate surroundings: his garden, the views from his windows, snow turning to slush, the sounds of insects and bells and vibrating telephone lines, deep ravines, sudden atmospheric changes, the experience of entering a forest at dusk, to name but a few. He often imbued these subjects with highly expressionistic light, creating at times a clear-eyed depiction of the world and, at other times, a unique mystical and visionary experience of nature.

Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in collaboration with the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York.

Heat Waves in a Swamp is made possible by The Joy and Jerry Monkarsh Family Foundation.  Major support is provided by the LLWW Foundation and Lynda and Stewart Resnick. 

It is also realized through the generosity of The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, George Freeman, The Straus Family Fund, Rosette Varda Delug, Booth Heritage Foundation, The Fran and Ray Stark Foundation, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Significant support for the presentation at the Whitney is provided by Carol and Charles Balbach, Aaron I. Fleischman and Lin Lougheed, and William and Rose-Marie Shanahan.

Video: Curator Carrie Springer and reporter Dana Tyler walk through the exhibition
WCBS 2 News

“So go—experience these visionary paintings before they return to the darkness.”
The Village Voice

“This summer, if you’re looking for visionary company in the city . . . he’s the artist for you."
The New York Times

Audio slide shownarrated by critic Peter Schjeldahl
The New Yorker

“A breathtaking exhibition”
Los Angeles Times 


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Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Catalogue

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