Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs at Vilcek Foundation, May 13 – November 13, 2019

“The Vilcek Foundation presents Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs as the opening exhibition in its new gallery space on the Upper East Side. The exhibition presents an important aspect of the modernist painter’s oeuvre not often seen by the public.

While Crawford is best known for his Precisionist paintings of urban landscapes, he explored new modes of expression, including photography, throughout his later life. This exhibition examines the confluence of two seemingly disparate series completed later in his life, Torn Signs and Semana Santa. Though their subject matter is drastically different—one is inspired by tattered advertisements on the streets of New York, while the other depicts observers of Holy Week in Seville, Spain—Crawford connects them through his extraordinary visual memory, working method, and sense of spatial organization. The convergence of these two incredible series culminates in Torn Signs, 1974-76, the powerful, large-scale painting that sits at the thematic center of the exhibition.”— Vilcek Foundation

Torn Signs, Philadelphia, 1938. Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in. Vilcek Collection © Estate of Ralston Crawford / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Torn Signs [Frame 26], 1966 Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in. Vilcek Collection © Estate of Ralston Crawford / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Torn Signs [Frame 24], 1966. Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in. Vilcek Collection © Estate of Ralston Crawford / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Torn Signs [Frame 30], 1966. Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in. Vilcek Collection © Estate of Ralston Crawford / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Torn Signs, April 15, 1974-1976. Oil on canvas, 54 x 72 in. Vilcek Collection © Estate of Ralston Crawford / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Blue, Grey, Black, 1973. Oil on canvas, 50 x 36 in. Vilcek Collection © Estate of Ralston Crawford / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

“We chose to inaugurate our gallery space with an exhibition of Ralston Crawford, an American artist whose early work is widely celebrated, but whose later work has been, at least until recently, relatively under-exhibited and under-known,” says Rick Kinsel, president of the Vilcek Foundation. “Crawford was celebrated as a painter of the American scene in the 1930s, but the war years changed him and altered his artistic vision, moving it farther into the realm of the abstract and spiritual. This exhibition charts the influence of war, travel, and cross-cultural exchange on his mid- and later-life work, in particular exploring the way in which he was influenced by the post-war art, culture, religion, and folkways in France and Spain. The Vilcek Foundation supports and encourages cross-cultural contributions to the American arts and sciences, so Crawford, the son of Canadian immigrants, is a perfect subject for our opening exhibition: He’s an iconic American painter who was not limited to working in the United States, and whose work profited by exposure to other lands, cultures, and ideas.”

Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs was organized by Vilcek Foundation curator Emily Schuchardt Navratil.

Images courtesy Vilcek Foundation.