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Remembering David Pratt

Western New York lost one of the last of its old-guard painters on Sunday. David Pratt, a contemporary of Charles Burchfield and a prolific oil and watercolor painter who fused artmaking with a career in construction, died at the age of 92. (Read his obituary here.)

Pratt's work, which won him many regional prizes and has been exhibited widely at local galleries (including an important retrospective organized by Nancy Weekly in 1992), largely consisted of landscapes. His son, Michael Pratt, described his father as a "transitional" painter, who nearly always included representational elements in his paintings but also clearly felt the allure of abstraction as his career went on.

In a review of his 1992 retrospective at the Burchfield Art Center (now the Burchfield Penney), former News art critic Richard Huntington described his work this way:

The more one looks at a Pratt painting, the more the mysteries are compounded. Pratt has an incredibly delicate hold on the natural world. He seems to gently -- without any undue pushing or probing -- deny it its real and solid existence. That existence, Pratt seems to say, is the easy and dull way for the world. Better that things and shapes mingle with human thought and emotion.

Check out this slideshow of Pratt's work (with images kindly provided by Michael Pratt) to get a better idea of the late artist's unique approach to painting:

--Colin Dabkowski


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