Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) was an American painter who spent his life in Ohio and upstate New York, working for years as a wallpaper designer in Buffalo. He is the subject of a retrospective at the Whitney in New York, which Peter Schjeldahl reviewed in the July 5 New Yorker. He painted in two very different styles. In his middle years he worked in a darkly tinged realism much like Edward Hopper, as in the two paintings above,"Rainy Night" and "Early December Snow."
And these, "Black Iron" and "Pyramid of Fire."
But in his youth and again in his old age he preferred a sort of luminescent, stylized impressionism, as in "Sultry Moon" and "Radiant Spring" (above) and "Orion in December" and "Dandelion Seed Heads" (below). I liked the more realistic works right away, for the same reason I like Hopper; to me they convey a sense of a real place that is somehow charged with emotion, sometimes comfort but usually loneliness or even menace. My first reaction to the strange, symbolic works was a shudder. Some of them look a bit like the first attempts at nature paintings by sweet 14-year-old girls. But they are growing on me, and I find that I like the better ones like the the four I show here. They are a little bit New Age-y, with their symbolic stars, moons, and flowers, but they catch the eye and draw it into a vision of a meaningful universe.