Bitter Orange
1967-68
52" x 60"
Framed: 53.25" x 61"
Painting, oil on canvas
signed lower left
The paintings of the 1960s, already concerned with the pictorial rendering of limitless space, were charged with surface energy generated by the opposition of open, angular forms and the fluctuation of juxtaposed pure colors. In "Bitter Orange", a precursor to his final "Series of Nine", Burlin has calmed the turbulent surfaces and moved toward a new openness, simplicity, and serenity. The window shape—the primary pictorial element repeated throughout the series—may in this context have ideological and symbolic significance as well. The artist's canvas is in a metaphorical sense his "window" onto the world. It is as if Burlin saw the essence of spatial infinity through his canvas and was thus able to achieve on its surface the climactic and authoritative synthesis of his life's work.

About the Artist
(1886 - 1969)
Paul Burlin was born in New York in 1886. He received his early education in England before returning to New York at the age of twelve. He worked for a short time as an illustrator under Theodore Dreiser at Delineator magazine, where he was exposed to Progressivist philosophy and politics. He soon grew tired of commercial work and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. There, he received a formal education and refined his technical skills; though he later dropped out to pursue his artistic studies more informally with a group of fellow students. He was also a frequent visitor at Alfred Steiglitz’s ‘291’ gallery.

Burlin achieved a great deal of early artistic success. He visited the Southwest for the first time in 1910. Paintings from this visit were received warmly in New York and exhibited in a 1911 exhibition. As a result of his early success, he (and Randall Davey) were the youngest artists (at twenty-six years of age) to participate in the 1913 Armory Show – the revolutionary exhibition of avant-garde European work that can be credited with introducing modern art to the United States and stimulating the development of modernism in America. There, Burlin’s work was exhibited alongside works by such artists as Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, and Duchamp.


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