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Charles Burchfield gets a late debut in Los Angeles

October 10, 2009 |  9:00 am

Charles Burchfield Glory of Spring (Radiant Spring) 1950 Here's a pop quiz: Which 20th century artist had the first solo exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art?

If you guessed any big-name artist from Europe, you'd be wrong. But you certainly could be forgiven. MOMA's long-established (and much-maligned) time line for significant Modern art can be overly simplified like this: Europe before World War II, the United States after.

Yet in 1930, MOMA director Alfred Barr chose a Buffalo, N.Y.-based painter as the subject of the then-new museum's first one-man show. Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) isn't as well-known today as he was then, but expect a new exhibition at the UCLA Hammer Museum, organized by artist Robert Gober, to bring his work back into sharp focus. I'll have a review of the eagerly anticipated show in Sunday's paper.

Oh, and did I mention surprise factoid #2? According to the museum, this is the first major survey of Burchfield's art ever in Los Angeles.

-- Christopher Knight

Photo: Charles Burchfield, "Glory of Spring (Radiant Spring)," 1950. Credit: UCLA Hammer Museum