Author: Charles Burchfield (American, 1893–1967)
Medium: Watercolor, gouache and graphite on paper
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Burchfield’s style was largely developed by the summer of 1915, after his junior year at the Cleveland School of Art, as he sketched and painted constantly in and around Salem, Ohio, “gathering the materials for a lifetime,” according to his journals. Exposed in school to modernist European trends, he developed an almost fauvist use of broad areas of simplified color, enlivened by delightful particularizations of nature, and in 1917 began combining visual motifs projecting human moods, often disturbing, into the pictures. Biographers note his exposure to modernist trends and traditional Chinese painting while in art school, but overlook that the hallucinatory quality in his work may be partly traced to an episode of nervous exhaustion in 1911 while a junior in high school. Determined to record all the area’s flowering plants that spring, he stayed up late at night painting whole bouquets of the blooms and had a bout of what was referred to at the time as “brain fever,” which might now be termed mania. He seems to have learned to use it as source of energy and inspiration. — Source
a tall tree is being felled.
Search, birds, search
for the site of your nests
in this high memory
while it is still murmuring."
— Jules Supervielle