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Charles E. Burchfield: Evidence of Intent

On View Thursday, September 12, 2013–Sunday, January 26, 2014

Charles E. Burchfield Rotunda   

"Finally I abandon my poster and make a sketch! I got much more than the sketch. I realized that is what I loved—this seeking to put down my impression of things."

—Charles E. Burchfield, 1914

Through his time at the Cleveland School of Art, and the exceptionally prolific years that immediately followed, Burchfield was purposefully developing his own "grammar of expression." His sketchbooks served as visual diaries. On these pages he recorded his impressions of nature and explored ideas for his paintings.

Burchfield memorably stated, "An artist must paint not what he sees in nature, but what is there. To do so he must invent symbols, which, if properly used, make his work seem even more real than what is in front of him."

Burchfield's sketchbooks from this period he joyfully referred to as his "Golden Year" bear evidence of this intent. Graphic interpretations of nature—patterns, symbols, motifs—emerged from these studies, inspiring work throughout his life. One must wonder how often Burchfield, later in his career, revisited these sketchbooks for inspiration in the same way he looked to paintings from this period.

Evidence of Intent serves as a companion to Charles E. Burchfield: By Design, presenting highlights from the artist's sketchbooks created from 1912 through1917. Ever the designer, these pages reveal Burchfield's unique vision and bold reflections of the world around him.

Brian Grunert, Designer, White Bicycle
Tullis Johnson, Curator & Manager of Archives, Burchfield Penney Art Center
Kyle Morrissey, Designer, White Bicycle