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Arden Burdock [active 1950s]



[From the catalogue-in-progress for “Landscapes & Livestock”, a loan exhibition for Agincourt Homecoming in the Fall of 2015]

BURDOCK, Arden [dates not known]

Still Life


oil on cardboard / 26 inches x 20 inches

The spirit of mid-century Modernism is underrepresented in the Community Collection. But what might account for this?

First, the majority of pieces have hung on the walls of our homes, businesses, and institutions; they represent a cross section of “taste” through the community’s history. But there is little correlation among a) the date of a work, b) the date of its acquisition by a local owner, and c) the date of its arrival in the Community Collection. Compound these factors with the variety of sources for the artworks themselves—pieces got during travel; as gifts (for weddings, anniversaries, etc.) or inheritance; from local sources or galleries in Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha—and few patterns emerge. A complete history may never be written.

Arden Burdock’s “Still Life” is one of very few mid-century pieces and, happily, it is a good one. Secondary colors prevail (pastel green, mauve and orange) over primaries, and those are also misty and muted. And the composition, though asymmetrical and angular, is also tempered with gentle curves. The boldest textures are reserved for veins on the philodendron leaves. And the whole is suffused with the hazy light of a late summer afternoon. Burdock was a regional artist, a native of Storm Lake, who attended Northwest Iowa Normal and took instruction from Karl Wasserman during the 1940s. She might have had a career in art but chose instead to pursue her father’s career in optometry.

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