David Pratt (1918-2010) was introduced to art by Carl Bredemeier and classes at the Art Institute of Buffalo. After service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Pratt became a faculty member himself and in 1949 he took on the additional role of director of the Art Institute. In 1950 he convinced Charles Burchfield to become a guest instructor to teach oil and watercolor painting on Saturdays. The tables were turned in 1951 when Pratt attended a painting seminar led by Burchfield at the University of Buffalo. Although their watercolor styles differed radically, Burchfield’s orientation to fantasy in his early and late works was an impetus to Pratt to create an imaginary realm in his own works.
Pratt painted a world that is alive with spirits and movement, where the laws of perspective are skewed, and solidity dissolves into an ethereal suggestion of mass. His visionary paintings are filled with contradictions, simultaneously fanciful and foreboding. Jazz often inspired improvisational compositions and brushwork. His first solo exhibition was presented at the 20th Century Club in Buffalo in 1940, followed by others held at the Artist’s Committee Gallery in Buffalo in 1981, Norberg’s Art Gallery on the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora in 1999, and at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in 1992 and 2006.