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New Jersey Remembered: A Seventy-fifth Anniversary; Philadelphia Collection 75; October 2005
 
 
painting
 
Daniel Chard
(born 1939)
Shiloh, New Jersey
Acrylic on paper, 3 1/4 × 13 1/4 inches
Signed at lower right: “D. CHARD”

Daniel Chard entered the University of South Dakota in 1956 to study engineering, but switched to art in his junior year and graduated with a B.F.A. He earned an M.A. from Northern State University in South Dakota, and an Ed. D. from Columbia University in New York. Chard returned to New Jersey, where he taught art in public schools for six years. He joined the faculty of Glassboro State College in 1968 (renamed Rowan University in 1997) and wrote Landscape Illusion: A Spatial Approach to Painting (1987).

Chard is particularly noted for his meticulously detailed, unpretentious views of rural southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Early in his career he experimented with expressionism, color-field painting, and geometric abstraction, but after moving to the small south New Jersey farming community of Alloway Township, Salem County, in 1977, he developed a highly personal form of Photo-Realism. After viewing a group of historic photographs of Alloway, Chard began to paint with the aid of his own color snapshots. Within two years he had begun to produce a series of rural views of the area, of which this view of Shiloh, a small town in neighboring Cumberland County, is an example. The artist employed an unusual working procedure for these landscapes: He combined acrylic paint with watercolor and applied the mixture to 300-pound rag watercolor paper that had been water-soaked and stapled to a board to achieve maximum flatness. A colleague elaborated on Chard’s technique:

The paint is applied transparent layer over transparent layer, with a No. 1 sable brush. Evident brushstrokes are avoided because they call too much attention to the act of painting and also tend to obliterate detail. The final illusion is the result of accumulated layers of thinned paint with tonal contrasts playing a more dominant role than hue. Chard also does a lot of ‘finger painting’—that is, dabbing and wiping the fresh paint to imply varied surface patterns.”1

Chard consistently used the exaggerated horizontal format as a means to convey the infinite panoramic expansiveness of the landscape. He avoided including people and animals in his compositions because he felt they would be a distraction from the scene at hand.

Chard related that when people who had never been to South Jersey saw his views of the area, “They say they feel like that’s where they live—maybe where they want to live—that it’s a place they’ve known all their lives.”2 This series of small landscapes was an immense success when it was exhibited at Chard’s first solo show at the O. K. Harris Works of Art Gallery in New York in 1980, and established him as a figure of national prominence. Chard, who still teaches at Rowan University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, has abandoned photographic realism; his latest work consists of imaginary landscapes in which he emphasizes expressive color and pattern.


Notes

1. Gerald M. Monroe, “The Miniature Landscapes of Daniel Chard,” American Artist, vol. 46 (September 1982), p. 102.

2. Quoted in Lori Marshall, “Masters of the Arts,” Rowan Magazine, vol. 1 (fall 1995), p. 2.



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