About the Artist
Charles Burchfield was an American artist, known for his startling, dreamlike watercolor landscapes and lithographs.
Early Life and Education
Charles Burchfield was born in Ashtabula Harbor in 1893. He was raised in Salem, in Ohio, by his widowed mother. Many of Burchfield’s paintings are of views from the house in Salem, and of the house itself, where lived with his mother until he was 28 and is now a museum.
After graduating from high school, where he was class valedictorian, Burchfield studied at the Cleveland School of Art from 1912 to 1916, with Henry G. Keller, Frank N. Wilcox and William J. Eastman, each a masterful watercolorist.
Burchfield was drafted into the army in 1918, towards the end of World War l. He was assigned to the camouflage unit, painting the patterns on tanks and ships for identification purposes. He remained stateside, and never traveled outside of the United States.
Career and Family
Burchfield became engaged to Bertha Kenreich in 1921. The couple married the following year, and moved to Buffalo, New York, where Burchfield worked as a wallpaper designer at the H.M. Birge wallpaper company for seven years. Although he worked full time, and had five children, Burchfield painted nights and weekends.
In 1929, Burchfield began to exhibit his work at the Frank K.M.Rehn Gallery in New York. His work was so well received that he was able to leave his job at Birge and paint full-time.
In 1930, MoMA gave him a solo show called Charles Burchfield:Early Watercolors 1916-1918. In 1936, LIFE magazine did a feature story titled Burchfield’s America, naming him one of the ten greatest painters in America.
The Charles Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College was opened a month before his death in 1967, and houses the largest collection of his works and journals. The Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca, New York is on a site across from the home where Burchfield lived and can be seen in his work.
His works are part of the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the Whiney, the Met, the Carnegie Museum, the Vero Beach Museum and many other venues around the world.
Charles Burchfield Self Portrait 1916
Charles Burchfield Flower Pot in Window 1919
Charles Burchfield Factories (Red Buildings) 1920
Charles Burchfield Sunburst 1929-1931
Charles Burchfield Dandelion Seed Heads and the Moon 1961-65