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The Sunflower Arch

The Sunflower Arch

1917

Charles Burchfield

(American, 1893-1967)

Black crayon, colored crayons, and indelible pencil, with graphite on wove paper, lined

Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Prasse Collection 1965.461

Fun Fact

Burchfield especially liked drawing dying sunflowers because of their anthropomorphic forms.

Description

At the time he made this drawing, Burchfield had begun to develop a personal symbolic language, which he called “Conventions for Abstract Thoughts.” Using simple forms, such as the arched shape of the flowers seen here, he aimed to communicate universal emotions—in this case, “Mute Sorrow.” Burchfield saw a connection between this mood and sunflowers, which were among his favorite subjects. He often depicted them anthropomorphically, suggesting either open eyes or, as here, slumped human forms—as he described, “giv[ing] a sense of pre-autumnal melancholy in early September.”

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