Let Me Show You What I Saw at the DIA

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Evocative prints and watercolors by more than 30 important artists of the 20th century went on display yesterday at the Detroit Institute of Arts in the exhibition Let Me Show You What I Saw: American Views on City and try, 1912–1963.

The Star, Christmas Night, Charles Burchfield, 1939, watercolor. Detroit Institute of Arts
The Star, Christmas Night, Charles Burchfield, 1939, watercolor. Detroit Institute of Arts

Charles Burchfield’s visionary watercolors of rural landscapes inspired the exhibition. Five of his works, recently acquired by the DIA, will be displayed for the first time along with prints by his colleagues John Marin, Martin Lewis and Saul Steinberg, among many others.

The Star, Christmas Night, Charles Burchfield, 1939, watercolor. Detroit Institute of Arts
The Star, Christmas Night, Charles Burchfield, 1939, watercolor. Detroit Institute of Arts

Mostly drawn from the museum’s collection, the exhibit features works by artists who used time of day, season, weather, lighting and shadows to trigger suggestive moods, tones and atmospheres. The exhibition looks at the way in which the artists infused their scenes with qualities that suggest the presence of feelings and forces. The views are by and large initially appealing, but almost all imply natural and sometimes supernatural phenomena meant to provoke the viewer.

Starlit Woods, Charles Burchfield, 1917, watercolor over charcoal. Detroit Institute of Arts
Starlit Woods, Charles Burchfield, 1917, watercolor over charcoal. Detroit Institute of Arts

Burchfield was passionately devoted to nature, pioneering watercolor techniques and inventing symbols to convey emotions and sensations.

Winter Twilight, Kyra Markham 1935, lithograph. Detroit Institute of Arts
Winter Twilight, Kyra Markham 1935, lithograph. Detroit Institute of Arts

Exhibit ends June 29, 2014. (http://www.dia.org/calendar/exhibition.aspx?id=4228&iid=) Museum hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62+, $4 for ages 6–17.