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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Insect Fantasy, 1917; graphite, ink, watercolor and conté crayon on paper, 22 x 15 ½ inches; Private Collection

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Insect Fantasy, 1917; graphite, ink, watercolor and conté crayon on paper, 22 x 15 ½ inches; Private Collection

Burchfield inserts himself as a monogram cartouche in Insect Fantasy, 1917. Spiders lurk near potential prey in the playful design of an insect chorus during the parched days of late summer or early fall. The CEB monogram leaps free from an encapsulated landscape of drooping plants under a drought sun. This version, among several studies, traces the development of the motifs, which are related to Insanity and The Fear of loneliness. A large voracious spider hopes to ensnare a cricket whose leaps link other characters and sounds in this fantasy. A vignette of spiraling red ellipses anchored by tiny black insects might signify bloodsucking mosquitoes or ticks. They connect to a “high shrill pin-point cricket chorus” hiding in grass and leaves. Hopping, backtracking lines connect to an orb weaver spider perched on an Evil web or cocoon, surrounded by hundreds eggs and hatched spiderlings, observed by a chirping cricket nymph. In the grand scheme, Burchfield consciously subordinated his own size to facilitate his escape from this microcosmic predatory world.

--Content by Nancy Weekly for the exhibition, "A Dream World of Imagination: Charles E. Burchfield's Golden Year"