Between the years 1908 and 1911, American artist Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967) created nearly 500 botanical sketches that illustrated the different wildflowers and plants he found in the forests and fields around his childhood home in Salem, Ohio. Using books from the local library, Burchfield identified and documented these plants along with the locations where he found them. The artist’s fascination with plant life would remain strong throughout his career. Many of the wildflowers he recorded during those early years would show up again and again in paintings, and some would be included in the titles of works.
Burchfield’s early works were imaginative, stylized landscapes and rural scenes that often incorporated a personal language of symbols. After he moved to Buffalo, New York, he became engrossed in the city’s buildings, harbor, railyards and surrounding countryside, working in a more realistic style. From this period, his works showed an appreciation for the American scene and a complex assessment of urban life in comparison to the countryside and small town of his youth.
In the 1940s, Burchfield’s romanticism led him to paint fantasy scenes that often expanded into transcendental landscapes. He followed this artistic vision until the end of his life, creating some of his greatest, most mystical works. Burchfield gained acclaim through inclusion in prestigious national exhibitions and received numerous awards. His artistic achievement was honored by the inauguration of the Charles Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College in 1966. The museum, now called the Burchfield Penney Art Center, holds the world’s largest collection of his work.
Burchfield Botanicals features Burchfield masterworks, paired with his early botanical sketches and objects from the Marchand Wildflower Collection at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Paul Marchand was well known throughout the world for his meticulous work, creating “scientifically accurate and artistically superb casts of flowers and mushrooms” as well as dioramas for the museum throughout his career. The exhibition is organized and circulated by the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
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