ESSENTIAL W. CARL BURGER

Paintings and Drawings
November 10 - December 18, 2008

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Kean University is pleased to feature the work of W. Carl Burger from November 10, 2008 through January 15, 2009 in the CAS Art Gallery. Throughout the region, Burger is a legendary character, known as an outstanding artist and a generous teacher. Over the years, he has influenced thousands of students and has been recognized with many awards and prizes for his artwork. On the Kean University campus, merely mentioning his name brings a smile to those who know him. He is Professor Emeritus having taught in the Fine Arts Department from 1961 through 1993, and a true friend to the community.

Essential W. Carl Burger could have been crafted as a narrative exhibition of works spanning the six decades of this artist’s prolific career, starting out with a few early renderings of French landscapes or European architecture seen through the eyes of a young artist-soldier, then advancing through each subsequent stage of development. Burger is a virtuoso draftsman, a master of collage and an expressionist master of extravagant color. We could have highlighted these stages. To be sure, this would make for a beautiful exhibition. In fact, the Butler Museum in 2007 and the Morris Museum in 2002 both have done comprehensive retrospective shows and produced catalogs presenting a broad perspective on Burger.

W. Carl Burger moves with deliberate energy and creativity. At 82, the artist radiates with inspired affection and enthusiasm. He lives with a youthful urgency to paint. And remarkably, his next painting always promises to be his best. For this reason the exhibition Essential W. Carl Burger is an investigation into the recent oil paintings and watercolors that have never been shown. Unlike much of his well-known oeuvre, some of the artworks use color sparingly, or for that matter, not at all. The visceral energy of these paintings do not depend on color. Although few are aware of this, for Burger it is not an entirely new way of working. The exhibition includes some older works that create context, and suggest the artist has been thinking monochromatically for many years.
On behalf of Kean University and the School of Visual and Performing Arts, I want to thank W. Carl Burger for his generosity in lending these works for our exhibition. We appreciate that he has returned for this show. Burger exemplifies the teacher who continues to enrich our community.

Neil Tetkowski
Director of University Galleries