Charles Burchfield, The Night Wind, 1918, watercolor, gouache, and pencil. © The Museum of Modern Art.


Charles Burchfield

Burchfield Penney Art Center
1300 Elmwood Avenue
March 5–May 23, 2010

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
October 4, 2009–January 3, 2010

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
June 24–October 17, 2010

Curated by Robert Gober

The eye for selection and sensitivity to space evident in Robert Gober’s sculptures and installations were last directed to curating in 2005, when the artist chose items from the Menil Collection in Houston to accompany his own work. Now Gober has assembled a full-fledged survey devoted to watercolorist Charles Burchfield (1893–1967), whose visions of the American scene are by turns ecstatic and morbid, mystical and bleak. The exhibition presents ephemera from Burchfield’s life (doodle-filled journal pages, correspondence with his early supporter Alfred H. Barr Jr.) alongside seventy-four watercolors. Psychedelic avant la lettre, the paintings feature plants, stars, insects, and dilapidated houses that melt or radiate shimmering coronas; a vocabulary of synesthetic marks lets the landscapes breathe, buzz, and hum their lost innocence.