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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Untitled (Camouflage design), 1918; watercolor and graphite on paper mounted on black paper, 10 3/4 x 12 5/8 inches (Mount: 13 1/8 x 15 7/16 inches); Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives, Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Untitled (Camouflage design), 1918; watercolor and graphite on paper mounted on black paper, 10 3/4 x 12 5/8 inches (Mount: 13 1/8 x 15 7/16 inches); Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives, Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006

Burchfield created camouflage designs for the Army during World War I. Disguising weaponry is an ironic task for an artist with such reverence for nature, but Burchfield seized it as yet another opportunity to use elements of design to express something deeper. While stationed at Camp Jackson, South Carolina in 1918, he wrote, “It was impossible for me to do straight camouflage. I had to have a poetic idea back of my designs.” Modern designers might refer to this as “concept.”

Content developed by Tullis Johnson, Brian Grunert and Kyle Morrisey for the exhibition Charles E. Burchfield: By Design