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Charles Bunnell (1897 – 1968)

Untitled (Transcendental Composition), oil on board, 1947, oil on board, signed and dated lower right, 18 x 18 inches; presented in a period frame


Charles Bunnell as a Colorado-based painter and muralist. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Bunnell became interested in art from a young age, even drawing in his textbooks and walls. As a teenager, Bunnell moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado before serving in World War I. During 1922 and 1923, Bunnell studied at the Broadmoor Art Academy (later renamed the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center) and later with Ernest Lawson in 1927 through 1928, when he became Lawson's assistant. In the 1930's Bunnell spent a year and a half studying under Boardman Robinson. During the 1930s through the 1940s, Bunnell periodically taught at the Kansas City Art Institute, as well as at his own studio at the foot of Pike’s Peak. Like many artists during the Great Depression, Bunnell found work between 1934 and 1941, with Federal public works projects, including assisting Frank Mechau on murals for the Colorado Springs Post Office.

During World War II and the immediate post-war period, Bunnell's paintings, including the present work, tended towards Surrealism and Transcendentalism. Although the subject of the painting is still unclear, it seems likely that Bunnell is drawing on imagery of the Hindu deity Shiva. Bunnell's seated figure with his, all seeing third eye, calls to mind "The Destroyer God," a fitting image for the existential angst many felt in the years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The rippling, nearly crisply surface of the painting creates a shimmering quality that adds to its otherworldly mystery.

Throughout his long career, Bunnell's work was exhibited in many solo shows including at the Kansas City Art Institute, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the University of Kentucky, the Santa Fe Museum, the University of Illinois, and the Taos Gallery, among many others. He also exhibited in group shows at at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Institute, the Colorado State Fair, and the Kansas City Art Institute. Bunnell is listed in Who Was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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