This painting shows a field of sunflowers set against a backdrop of trees and buildings, transformed into a study of color and pattern.

Charles Burchfield

American, 1893-1967

Dancing Sunlight, 1916

Watercolor on paper

20 x 14 inches

Signed and dated lower right

Dancing Sunlight was painted in a landmark year for Charles Burchfield; he graduated from the Cleveland School of Art, received a scholarship to attend the National Academy of Design, and had his first solo exhibition of watercolors at the Sunwise Turn Bookshop. Although Burchfield’s career had just begun, the present work fully encapsulates his distinct style of rendering ordinary scenes into abstract, spiritually infused paintings. The field of sunflowers set against a backdrop of trees and buildings is transformed into a study of color and pattern. The tall, willowy stalks of flowers and the shadows cast from a high summer sun dot the lower register of the painting and become a series of decorative, patterned motifs. The light and airy foreground is contrasted with the black, solid forms in the background, conjuring a dream-like vision of a scene drawn from nature. Burchfield painted a series of sunflower scenes in 1916, including Sunflower(Whitney Museum of American Art), Moon through Young Sunflowers (Carnegie Museum of Art), and Rogues’ Gallery (The Museum of Modern Art).

This painting shows a field of sunflowers set against a backdrop of trees and buildings, transformed into a study of color and pattern.