Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Haunted Twilight, 1954-62; watercolor and charcoal on paper, 32 3/8 x 39 1/8 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1994
Charles E. Burchfield: Haunted Twilight
On View Saturday, September 11, 2010–Sunday, January 23, 2011
Once upon a time long, long ago an old, dilapidated clapboard house with a demi-lune window and double chimneys captured the imagination of a fatherless boy who was wandering in the countryside during a visit to his grandmother. Fascinated by its mysterious character, Charles Burchfield felt compelled to sketch the “haunted house” and feature it in paintings, each time trying to convey variations on its enigmatic qualities.
The abandoned house was located in Teegarden, Ohio, four miles southeast of Burchfield’s childhood home in Salem. Now the dwelling is immortalized in Haunted Twilight (1954-62) and it appeared as a recurring subject in ghoulish works like Bats at Twilight (1963) and Old House and Spruce Trees (1951-60). Reminiscing about the latter, Burchfield said that “At late twilight flying squirrels, who spent the daylight hours in the attic of the house, would come out one by one, fly to the base of the pine tree, scramble to the top, and then glide to a woods nearby. We—my sister and I—would count them as they came.” He also intended it to communicate “the eeriness of an August twilight, with katydids and grasshoppers in full song.”
Artworks in the collection and preliminary studies from the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives will demonstrate the power of an empty domicile in a faded landscape as an indelible memory