Torn Signs

Author(s): William C. Agee; John Crawford; Rick Kinsel; Emily Schuchardt Navratil

Art

Early in his career, Ralston Crawford (1906-1978) earned acclaimed for his Precisionist paintings of architectural subjects associated with a forward-looking, industrialized America, most famously his Overseas Highway of 1939. But Crawford was a multifaceted artist with an adventurous spirit and a curiosity for the world beyond the United States, one whose work in various media and painting styles continued to evolve throughout his life, with his later, more abstract painting having a remarkable emotional dimension.
This new book, published to accompany an exhibition at the Vilcek Foundation in New York focuses on two series of works - 'Torn Signs' and 'Semana Santa' - that Crawford developed mostly over the course of the last 20 or so years of his life (although his first 'Torn Signs' photographs date from the late 1930s, thus making this Crawford's most enduring theme or motif). Rick Kinsel, President of the Vilcek Foundation, begins by considering how and why his travels to Europe, especially to Andalusia in Spain, were so inspiring to Crawford. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, the last week of Lent, is observed in Seville with public processions of penitential confraternities through the streets. Witnessing this event proved to be a moving experience for Crawford, and he revisited the subject of the penitents, with their distinctive conical hats, multiple times across a number of years.
The art historian William C. Agee provides a biographical essay on Crawford's peripatetic life, examining in particular the relation between the 'Torn Signs' and 'Semana Santa' bodies of work and the artist's later decades, after the Second World War, when Crawford was interested less in the life-affirming view of modernity associated with Precisionism, and more in giving expression to disillusion and decay. Crawford's son John writes about the complex interrelationship of the two series, with emphasis on the way in which Crawford's photography relates to his painting and printmaking. Individual works in both series are then explored in depth in the main part of the book by Emily Schuchardt Navratil, Curator of the Vilcek Foundation.
Reproductions of the pages of sketchbooks from 1971 (the year he was diagnosed with leukaemia) illuminate Crawford's approach to remembering colour through writing and his incredible visual memory; here, drawings of torn signs, Semana Santa and the streets of Seville are interspersed with the artist's thoughts on colour, the connection between drawing and writing, and his own life and death.

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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9781858946733
  • : Merrell Publishers Limited
  • : Merrell Publishers Limited
  • : April 2019
  • : --- length: - '11.5' width: - '9.75' units: - Inches
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : William C. Agee; John Crawford; Rick Kinsel; Emily Schuchardt Navratil
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 160