Finding Aid: Making Sense of the Charles E. Burchfield Archives demonstrates Burchfield’s role as an archivist, and how his practices, half a century ago, impact the care and preservation of his materials today. By exploring primary source documents he created, we can gain a deeper understanding of his life and work. When one looks at a painting in a museum, the aesthetic object often lacks context. Too often, the circumstances surrounding the creation of a work of art are long forgotten, but this is not the case with Charles E. Burchfield. In his archive, the artist has provided posterity with an incredible roadmap—a “finding aid,” in the nomenclature of archivists—with which future generations can gain insight into his inspirations and environment.
Burchfield was constantly documenting and reflecting upon his experiences in nature; he was a life-long student of the natural world, and an enthusiastic one at that. His reflections did not proceed in a linear manner; sketches would be grouped over decades according to themes such as the seasons, weather elements, and conceptual motifs. The connections Burchfield formed organically throughout his artistic practice still influence the basis of how The Center organizes and exhibits his work today.
The Charles E. Burchfield Archive Collection includes 25,000 sketches, more than 10,000 pages of journal entries, thousands of pages of correspondence, hundreds of doodles, the exhibition history of his works, and painting indexes created by the artist. This exhibition cannot incorporate the full scope or impact of Charles E. Burchfield’s Archive. To learn more about Charles E. Burchfield’s archival materials, please explore the thousands of digital images of Burchfield’s Archives on the Center’s website, or contact the Archives to schedule an appointment.
Exhibition overview from museum website