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Row of Maples

Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

Row of Maples

Artist: Charles Burchfield (American, 1893–1967)
Culture: American
Date: 1916
Medium: Watercolor on paper
Image/sheet: 20 x 13 15/16 inches (50.8 x 35.4 cm)
Mat: 24 3/4 x 18 3/4 inches (62.9 x 47.6 cm)
Frame: 29 1/2 x 23 1/4 x 1 inches (74.9 x 59.1 x 2.5 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Bequest of Louise and Alvin Myerberg
Label Text:Charles Burchfield is famous for his fanciful, emotionally-charged depictions of nature, interpreted through his own symbolic lens. Although sometimes associated with the American Regionalist group that celebrated the U.S. heartland, he independently found a unique, private mode of expression.

After studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1912-1916, he moved to Salem, Ohio, where he worked in a factory and painted during his spare time. "A curious depression assailed me, and I worked constantly to keep it down," the artist wrote in his journal around 1915. "As I progressed I went further into childhood memories … I tried to recreate such moods as fear of the dark, the feeling of a flower before a storm, and even to visualize the songs of insects and other sounds."

Row of Maples dates to the period when he struggled with depression. The work seems to recall a moment when the calm and quiet of a suburban neighborhood is disturbed by the screeching of black birds taking flight from the top of the trees. Above flat blocks of color, repeating spiked and curved black lines pulsate like sound waves.

During the 1930s, Burchfield began to paint more industrial and urban subjects, and later, in the 1940s, he shifted to an Expressionistic phase.
Object number: 2010.3.5