Since Tom Burckhardt began presenting his art in 1992, he has produced many powerful and diverse works, each faithful to the materials he uses. His installation works include “full stop(2005–6) meticulously created a homage and elegy to the post-war artist’s studio, using only black paint, cardboard, wood and hot glue. The walkthrough environment contained all the paraphernalia typically found in an artist’s studio, often with art historical references. Jackson Pollock shoes. Jasper Johns Savarin cans. In 2008 Burckhardt used cardboard and paint to slumpan exhibition consisting entirely of curved paintings resting on tins of trompe-l’oeil, leaned against the wall.
While many other artists have built their entire careers by rejecting painting or filling grids with color, Burckhardt had a more complex and nuanced response to art history and its reproduction. In FULL STOP, surrounded by everything needed to make art, from paint cans and tubes, saws and hammers, to shelves of art books, he placed a blank canvas on an easel in the center of the room and essentially asked, “Where do I go from here?”
Since this groundbreaking body of work, Burckhardt has created abstract paintings on molded plastic supports with textured surfaces, as well as observational paintings based on various signs seen in rural Maine. Through every shift and turn he made, he remained true to his material humility. By refusing to preserve his own objects in bronze or other permanent materials, he harshly repulsed the high modernist ideals of painting oil on canvas, while at the same time criticizing postmodernism, which celebrates flashy materiality and high-end reproductions of the ordinary. Rejecting both romantic and entrepreneurial views of the artist, bohemian and corporate, he defined a generative position never before fully recognized. And, perhaps to further confuse the viewer, he also painted beautiful abstract paintings on canvas.
When I think of Burckhardt’s body of work, I am reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s instructive insight into productivity.
Stupid Consistency is a little-minded hobgoblin worshiped by little politicians and philosophers and holy people. With consistency, great souls don’t have to do anything. He might be better off watching his shadow on the wall. Even though it contradicts everything you said today, speak harshly what you think now, and speak harshly what you think tomorrow. — “Oh, that’s why you’re always misunderstood.” — Is it such a bad thing to be misunderstood?
For nearly 35 years, Burckhardt has been working with old and discarded books, using the pages inside for painting. A self-confessed thrifty man, he decided to do something with his book cover.The lingua franca of self-help and history books is his one of the exhibition’s focal points Tom Burkhardt: How I Got Into This World It’s in the High Noon Gallery, but that’s not all. According to a press release, “353 pages of a collaged found book” are set up along three walls of the gallery, over which Burkhardt, like Sol LeWitt, “created a deconstructed grid” in red and blue chalk. This is both an installation and an efficient way to display a large number of works in a narrow gallery space.
Using ink and collage, Burckhardt saves words he finds and adds abstract shapes of patterned cutouts against a gradient ground. At once dramatic and understated, hilariously absurd, disturbing and apocalyptic, the phrase is “poetic” in an elusive and kitsch sense. “I passed in my teens”. “To those who continue to protect the unwavering heart of America.” “People who weren’t born there.”
I love the ambiguous, strange, disturbing, funny and gentle titles and phrases that Burckhardt brings to his work. It is impossible to guess the context of some phrases, and trying to do so becomes part of the viewer’s aesthetic engagement with the work. Consistent with all of this artist’s work is that he is not a literalist, does not make big claims about his art, does not lead the viewer in any direction, and refuses to use expensive materials or manufacturing costs.
While exploring various materials, Burckhardt has resisted creating works as products. He never defined himself as a conceptual his artist because he knows that labels give him limits. In fact, Burckhardt found himself tacitly skeptical of the claims of original conceptual artist Mel Bochner. Over the past 30 years, Burckhardt has never impressed his audience, nor has he developed a method for slack, consumer-oriented production.in each work how we got involved Original.
Tom Burkhardt: How I Got Into This World The exhibition runs through August 20th at the High Noon Gallery, 124 Forsyth Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan. This exhibition was organized by the gallery.