If you want to get ahead of a major artistic rediscovery in 2010, travel up to Columbus Museum of Art before Aug. 2 to see The Architecture of Painting: Charles Burchfield. It includes watercolors the Ohio-born artist made between 1918-1920 in his home state, after returning from World War I and before moving to Buffalo.
A friend and contemporary of Edward Hopper, Burchfield excelled at wintry, lonely urban landscapes that often included anthropomorphic-looking homes and the ghostly, haunting presence of industry (smokestacks) in the horizon. Too expressionist to be considered an American Scene painter, his work seems somewhere between Hopper and Edvard Munch, with a keen eye for early-20th Century architecture. It remains powerful today.
At the Columbus Museum, the excellent show is overpowered by a bigger retrospective for the borderline-kitsch figurative painter George Tooker. But Burchfield, who in his day was the first painter to get a one-person show at New York's Museum of Modern Art, will do better next year when the Whitney Museum and L.A.'s Hammer Museum share an overdue major retrospective of his work.
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