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Advancing Clouds

Advancing Clouds
signed with the artist's monogram and dated 'CEB 1946-63' (lower right); titled and dated again '"ADVANCING CLOUDS" 1946-1963' (on the reverse)
watercolor, graphite and chalk on paper laid down on board
35 7/8 x 26 3/4 in. (100 x 67.8 cm.)
Executed in 1946-1963.
Frank Rehn Gallery, New York
James Goodman Gallery, Buffalo
Gallery Without Walls, Buffalo
Mr. Laurence Goodyear, Buffalo, 1967
By descent from the above to the present owner
J. S. Trovato, Charles Burchfield: Catalogue of Paintings in Public and Private Collections, Utica, New York, 1970, p. 300, no. 1266.
C. L. Makowski, Charles Burchfield: An Annotated Bibliography, Lanham, Maryland, 1996, pp. 37 and 77, no. 369 and 698.
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, 29th Biennial of Contemporary American Painting, February-April 1965, no. 24.
Buffalo, James Goodman Gallery, Charles Burchfield: Watercolors, Drawings, December, 1966,
Buffalo, State University College, Charles Burchfield Center, Works by Charles Burchfield: Permanent and Loan Collection Exhibition, January 1970-April 1971
Buffalo, State University College, Burchfield Art Center, Charles Burchfield: Hidden Treasures, December 1986-January 1987, pp. 9 and 14 (illustrated).
New York, DC Moore Gallery, Charles Burchfield: Fifty Years as a Painter, June-September 2010, pp. 110 and 117 (illustrated).
Further details
We would like to thank Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, for her assistance with cataloguing this lot.

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Lot Essay

Among the most celebrated American watercolorists of the twentieth century, Charles Burchfield captured on paper the sensations of the natural world as filtered through his own emotional and symbolic associations. As the artist reflected in 1960, “I find myself being drawn almost inexorably into a dream world. It is not that I am trying to escape real life, but that the realm of fantasy offers the true solution of truly evaluating an experience.” (quoted in Charles Burchfield: Fifty Years as a Painter, New York, 2010, p. 98) His best works, including Advancing Clouds, inescapably carry the viewer into this dreamy appreciation for the hidden wonders within the American landscape.

Burchfield's love of nature began in his childhood as he walked through the woods near his home in Ohio and read essays by naturalists, travel journals by John James Audubon and eventually stories by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Contemporary artist Robert Gober writes of Burchfield's early passion, “He loved swamps and bogs and marshes. He loved all of nature and was torn as a young man between being an artist and being a nature writer. He liked nothing more than to paint while literally standing in a swamp.” (Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, Los Angeles, 2009, p. 9) He moved to Buffalo, New York in 1921, and continued to seek inspiration within his natural surroundings throughout the rest of his career. Watercolor remained his primary medium, and the artist often revisited works over periods of multiple years to perfect his emotive compositions.

The present work perhaps reflects an experience Burchfield recorded in his journal on July 22, 1946: “It was a fine day – partly cloudy, misty, and slightly cool. At times the sun would come forth a few moments & shine dimly, at which time it grew momentarily hot. Pale tall phantom-like cumulus clouds half lost in the misty air…I felt carefree & happy to be out under the wide sky, and in a landscape that seemed illimitable.” Advancing Clouds interprets such weather phenomenon into a powerful pattern of curvaceous, gray and blue clouds intersected by bold streaks of yellow rays. In the foreground, floral blooms proudly stand tall against any storm coming their way, their vibrant color bursting with life against the green horizon. Epitomizing his characteristic style of bold, calligraphic patterns and synesthetic evocations, Advancing Clouds embodies “the romantic side of the real world that [Burchfield tried] to portray” throughout his long career. (quoted in The Paintings of Charles Burchfield: North by Midwest, New York, 1997, p. 41)

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