Ralston Crawford
(1906-1978)

Ralston Crawford, Cologne Landscape

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Biography

Ralston Crawford was born on September 25, 1906 in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, near Niagara Falls. In 1910 his family moved to Buffalo, New York, where Crawford often accompanied his ship captain father on trips across the Great Lakes. Crawford become a sailor and traveled to the Caribbean, Central America, and all along the California coast before returning in 1927 to start attending art schools.

For roughly six years Crawford attended a variety of art institutes across the US and Europe. Included were the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with Hugh Breckenridge, the Barnes Foundation, in Pennsylvania, and the Hugh Breckenridge School in Massachusetts. While in Los Angeles, Crawford also worked part-time as an animator for Walt Disney studios. His time at the Barnes Foundation, from 1927 to 1930, was greatly influenced by the works of Cezanne, as well as fellow Americans Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. Eventually Crawford made his way to Paris where he enrolled at the Academia Colarossi in 1932 followed by the Academie Scandinave in 1933. Finally he finished his academic sojourn at Columbia University.

Despite his appreciation for the styles and techniques of artists like Cézanne and Matisse, Crawford quickly found his love of the sea and his desire to capture its essence was more adequately rendered by the employment of the emerging principles of Precisionism and Abstract Expressionism. The majority of his early works focus on technological and industrial subjects. Crawford's work is characterized by its austerity, sharp outlines, and flat color he combined into a unique perspective. Towards the end of the 1930s, Crawford began to experiment even more with the themes of Abstraction. In addition to his painting, Crawford was also a prolific photographer, printmaker, and lithographer. Interested in rural architectural forms, he moved to Pennsylvania for five years, after which time he held a number of teaching positions and guest lecturer titles around the country.

During the Second World War Crawford served as Chief of the Visual Presentation Unit of the Weather Division in the Army Air Force. He applied easily recognizable symbols to indicate rain, snow, clouds, and other meteorological conditions so that military personnel would have iconographic representations of the weather. After the war Fortune magazine commissioned Crawford to be a witness at the atomic-bomb test at Bikini Atoll on the Marshall Islands. In his portrayal of the blast and its aftermath Crawford created a color serigraph of the U.S.S. Nevada— the ship used as the target. His composition was overwhelmingly abstract portraying both the blast and its wreckage.

Following a trip to Europe in the early 50s the subjects of Crawford’s paintings reflected those travels with canvases of Spanish bullfighting, the war ruins of Cologne, as well as the Easter procession in Seville. Upon his return to the states Crawford began going to New Orleans his work began to reflect his affection for the city. In addition to his group of paintings inspired by the St. Louis cemetery Crawford also created on a series of photographs documenting the local African American jazz musicians.

Diagnosed with cancer in 1971 and given a month to live Crawford finally succumbed to the disease on April 27, 1978 in Houston, Texas. Survived by his wife and three children, his family laid him to rest in his much-loved city of New Orleans with a traditional jazz funeral.

Written and compiled by Hali Thurber

1906
Born September 25th in Ontario, Canada
1910
Moves to Buffalo, New York
1926-27
Works as sailor on steamships to Central America, California, and the Caribbean
Studies in Los Angeles at Otis Art Institute
1927
Employed as illustrator in Walt Disney’s studio
1927-30
Studies at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania
1932-33
Travels to Paris, Spain and Italy
Returns to New York to study at Columbia University
1935-39
Lives and paints in Chadds Ford and Exton, Pennsylvania
Begins to experiment with photography
1942
Teaches at the Albright Art School in Buffalo
Enlists in the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, US Army
1943-45
Serves as master sergeant, chief of the Visual Presentation Unit of the Weather Division in the Army Air Force
Assigned to the China-Burma and India theatre
1946
Commissioned by Fortune to witness atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll
1947-50
Teaches and paints in Honolulu, Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Minneapolis and Baton Rouge
1951
Travels in Europe
1952
Teaches at New School for Social Research, New York
1954 - 1958
Lives in France; travels to Spain to study Goya’s paintings
1959 - 1961
Travels through Spain and Paris and the United States
Appointed consultant to the Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University, New Orleans
1962 - 1967
Travels to Greece, France, and Egypt
Visiting artist positions held at the University of Nebraska in Lincolnand at the University of Illinois in Champaign
1968
Nebraska; travels include Guadeloupe, Shelter Islands and Martinique
1970 - 1971
Receives award from National Academy of Arts and Letters
Travels through Spain and England
1972
Receives award from National Academy of Design, New York
1973 - 1977
Traveled through Europe, Asia, Nepal, Afghanistan, and the South Pacific
1978
 Died April 27 in Houston, TX; buried in St. Louis Cemetery, LA

1972 National Academy of Design
Member of the Society of Independent Artists

1934
Print Room, The Maryland Institute, Baltimore. "Paintings by Ralston Crawford"
1937
Boyer Galleries, Philadelphia. "Exhibition of Paintings: Ralston Crawford"
1938
The Philadelphia Art Alliance. "Ralston Crawford"
1939
Boyer Galleries, New York. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings"
1942
J.N. Adam & Co., Buffalo. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings"
Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan.  “The Work of Ralston Crawford"
The Closson Galleries, Cincinnati. "Exhibition of Paintings by Ralston Crawford"
1943
Artists' Gallery, Philip Ragan Associates, Philadelphia. "Paintings by Ralston Crawford"
1944
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford: In Peace and in War"
Wesleyan University, Connecticut. "Ralston Crawford: Weather Maps"
1945
Caresse Crosby Gallery, Washington, D.C. "Ralston Crawford"
1946
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "Ralston Crawford.: Paintings"
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings of Operation Crossroads at Bikini"
1947
Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. "Drawings by Ralston Crawford"
1949
Cincinnati Art Museum." Crawford, Cutler"
The University Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. "Ralston Crawford"
Pfeiffer Library, MacMurray College, Jacksonville, IL. "Prints, Drawings, Photographs by Ralston Crawford"
1950
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs"
Louisiana State University Art gallery, Baton Rouge. "Ralston Crawford"
Hart Gallery, Duluth, MN. "Ralston Crawford, Prints/Aristide Pappas, Paintings"
1952
Memorial Hall, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. "Paintings and Drawings of Ralston Crawford"
1953
Clark Hall, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. "Paintings and Lithographs: Ralston Crawford"
1954
Grace Borgenicht gallery, New York. "Recent Works by Ralston Crawford"
1956
The Cincinnati Modern Art Society, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati Art Museum. "Ralston Crawford Lithographs"
Grace Borgenicht gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford"
1958
Milwaukee Arts Center. "Ralston Crawford"
Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford"
1960
Hofstra College, Hempstead, New York. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings and Lithographs"
1961
Tweed gallery, University of Minnesota, Duluth. "Ralston Crawford: Retrospective Exhibition”
1963
Lee Nordness Gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford: Oils and Lithographs"
1965
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. "Ralston Crawford retrospective"
1966
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign. "Ralston Crawford"
1969
Bienville Gallery, New Orleans. "Ralston Crawford: Major Paintings and Lithographs"
The Century Association, New York. "Recent Paintings, Drawings, and Lithographs by Ralston Crawford"
1971
The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. "Ralston Crawford: Retrospective Exhibition"
Lee Nordness Galleries, New York. "Ralston Crawford: Recent Paintings, Plus Selected Major Oils, Gouaches, and Drawings from the 1930s to the 1960s”
Zabriskie gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford"
St. Mary's Gallery, Lexington Park, Maryland. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings, Lithographs, Drawings, and Film"
The Helman gallery, St. Louis. "Ralston Crawford"
1973
Bienville gallery, New Orleans. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings, Prints, Photographs"
University of Kentucky Art Gallery, Lexington. "Graphics '73, Ralston
Crawford: Retrospective Exhibition, Drawings and Watercolors" ZabriskieGallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford" Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, and Lithographs"
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. "Ralston Crawford Lithographs"
1974
The Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis. "Ralston Crawford"
Corcoran and Greenberg, Inc., Coral Gables, Florida. "Ralston Crawford Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings"
1976
Zabriskie Gallery, New York. "Ralston Crawford"
Bienville Gallery, New Orleans. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints"
Middendorf/Lane Gallery, Washington, D.C. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings, Watercolors, Prints, and Drawings"
1978
The Century Association, New York. "Oils, Watercolors, Drawings, and Prints by Ralston Crawford"

1931
Hotel Marguery, New York. "American Painters"
Balzac Galleries, New York. "American Painters"
1932
Phillips Mill, New Hope, Pennsylvania.  "Fall Art Exhibition"
1933
Art Club Gallery, Philadelphia. "The Fellowship of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition"
Art League of Washington, D.C. "Selected Groups of Miscellaneous Work in Carious Media from the Studios of Arts in the Delaware Valley Region, Philadelphia, and New York”
Mellon Gallery, Philadelphia. "New Hope Independents IndependentGallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania. "Group Exhibition"
Phillips Mill, New Hope, Pennsylvania. "Group Exhibition"
Library Building, Wilmington. "The Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts 20th
Annual Exhibition: Delaware Artists, Pupils of Howard Pyle, Members of the Society"
1934
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. "129th Annual Exhibition"
Art Club Gallery, Philadelphia. "The Fellowship of The PennsylvaniaAcademy of the Fine Arts Annual Exhibition"
Grand Central Palace, New York. "The Society of Independent Artists 18th Annual Exhibition"
Davenport gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania. "New Hope Independents"
1935
The Art Institute of Chicago. "The 14th Annual International Water Color Exhibition"
The Corcoran Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C. "The 14th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Paintings"
The Philadelphia Sketch Club. "71st Annual Exhibition of Oil Sketches”
Grand Central Palace, New York. "The Society of Independent Artists 19th Annual Exhibition"
The Chester County Art Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania. "FourthAnnual Exhibition”
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. "The 33rd Annual Philadelphia Water Color Exhibition"
Library Building, Wilmington. "The Wilmington Society of Fine Arts 22nd Annual Exhibition: Delaware Artists, Pupils of Howard Pyle, Members of the Society"
1936
Grand Central Palace, New York. "The Society of Independent Artists 20th Annual Anniversary Exhibition”
A.C.A. Gallery, New York. "First Annual Competitive Exhibition Sponsoredby the American Artists Congress”
Library Building, Wilmington. "The Wilmington Society of Fine Arts 23rd Annual Exhibition: Delaware Artists, Pupils of Howard Pyle, Members of the Society”
Boyer Galleries, New York. "Paintings by David Burluik, Ralston Crawford, Andrew Dasburg, Emlen Etting, Arshile Gorky, John McCardy, Harold Weston”
The Chester County Art Association, West Chester, PA. "Fifth Annual Exhibition”
The Art Club of Philadelphia."43rd Annual Exhibit of Oil Paintings."
1937
Art Club Gallery, Philadelphia. "The Fellowship of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Annual Exhibition."
Grand Central Palace, New York. "The Society of Independent Artists 21st Annual Anniversary Exhibition"
The Art Centre, West Chester, PA. "The Chester County Art Association Sixth Annual Exhibition"
Boyer Galleries, New York. "Modern American Paintings”
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting"
1938
The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach. "An Exhibition by the Artists of Florida"
Grand Central Palace, New York. "The Society of Independent Artists 22nd Annual Exhibition"
A.C.A. Gallery, Philadelphia. "Group Exhibition"
1939
Clearwater Art Museum, Florida. "Third Annual Exhibition, Contemporary Oil Painting"
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco. "Golden Gate international Exposition, Contemporary Art"
Boyer Galleries, New York. "Modern American Painting"
Cincinnati Art Museum. "The 46th Annual Exhibition of American Art"
Boyer Galleries, New York, "Watercolor Exhibition by 15 Americans"
1940
785 Fifth Avenue, New York. American Artists Congress Fourth Annual Membership Exhibition, Art in Democracy"
Willard Straight Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca. "Spring Art Exhibition"
Cincinnati Art Museum. "The 47th Annual Exhibition of American Art"
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting”
1941
Cincinnati Art Museum. "A New Realism: Crawford, Demuth, Spencer,Sheeler"
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. "The 17th BiennialExhibition of Contemporary American Oil Paintings"
The Cincinnati Modern Art Society, Lending gallery of Local Art. 'Group Exhibition"
Cincinnati Art Museum. "The 48th Annual Exhibition of American Art"
Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan. "Art Marches On!"
1942
The Cincinnati Modern Art Society and the Flint Institute of Arts. "25 Creative American Painters”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. "Artists for Victory: An Exhibition of Contemporary American Art"
1943
The Cincinnati Modern Art society, Cincinnati Art Museum. "Form andFormula"
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "The Third War Loan Exhibition: Crawford, Guglielmi, Levine, Lewandowski, Siporin"
Downtown Gallery, New York. "American Art 1943: New Paintings and Sculptures by Leading American Artists 18th Annual Exhibition"
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. "Paintings in the United States"
The Phillips Memorial Gallery, Washington, D.C. "Paintings by Artists ofWashington, Baltimore, and Vicinity"
1944
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. "139th AnnualExhibition of Painting and Sculpture"
San Francisco Museum of Art. "Abstract and Surrealist Art in the United States"
The Downtown Gallery, New York.  "New Important Paint and Sculpture by Leading Americans”
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "American Art 1944: New Paintings and Sculpture by Leading American Artists, 19th Annual Exhibition”      
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting"
1945
The Art Club of Chicago. "Three Contemporary Americans: Karl Zerbe, Stuart Davis, and Ralston Crawford"
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "19th Annual Spring Exhibition"
The Art Institute of Chicago. "Encyclopedia Britannica Collection"
1946
The Cincinnati Modern Art Society. "Before and After: Exhibition of Work by Six Veterans"
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "Six Artists Out of Uniform: New Post-War Paintings by Crawford, Guglielmi, Lawrence, Levine, Lewandowski, Siporin"
Community Education Gallery, Washington, D.C. "Eight Artists from D.C.: Crawford, Evans, Douglas, Love, Brown, Kainen, Radice, Lemon"
Office of international information and Cultural Affairs, U.S. State Department,Washington, D.C. "Advancing American Art”
1947
Honolulu Academy of Arts. "Ralston Crawford: Paintings, Photographs, Photograms"
Coleman Art Gallery, Philadelphia. "Five Prodigal Sons: Former Philadelphia Artists Ralston Crawford, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Julian Levi, Charles Sheeler"
1949
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "The Artist Speaks in Paint, Stone, and Words"
1951
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America"
The University Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. "40 American Painters, 1940-50"
The Art Institute of Chicago. "60th Annual American Exhibition, Paintings and Sculpture"
1952
Cincinnati Art Museum. "Second International Biennial of Contemporary Color Lithography" The Downtown Gallery, New York. "New Prints"
1953
Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis. "The Classic Tradition in Contemporary Art" Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting"
1954
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. "Dallas Print Society, National Prize Print Exhibition”
1957
The Brooklyn Museum, New York. "Golden Years of American Drawings 1905-1956"
1958
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "Recent American Prints: Third Biennial Invitational Exhibition"
The Downtown Gallery, New York. "Portrait of a Building"
University of Kentucky Art Gallery, Lexington. "Graphics '58"
1959
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. "The 26th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings"
1960
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. "The Precisionist View in American Art"
1962
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. "Geometric Abstraction in America"
1963
Whitney Museum of American Art. "Annual Exhibition 1963: Contemporary American Painting"
1964
Whitney Museum of American art, New York. "Between the Fairs: 25 Years of American Art, 1939-1964"
Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. "The 1964 Pittsburgh
International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture"
1968
Whitney Museum of Art, New York. "the 1930s: Painting and Sculpture in America"
1970
Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
"The Highway"
American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York. "Exhibition of Newly Elected Members and Recipients of Honors and Awards"
1972
National Academy of Art and Design, New York. "147th Annual Exhibition"
United States Department of the Interior, Traveling Exhibition service, Smithsonian Institution. "The American Artist and Water Reclamation"
1974
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. "Geometric Abstraction"
1975
Zabriskie Gallery, New York.  "Artists by Artists: Photographs"
1976
United States department of the Interior, organizer.  "America 1976."
Traveling exhibition, opened at The Corcoran Gallery of Art
Zabriskie Gallery, New York.  "Urban Focus: Photographs by Bernice Abbot,
Ralston Crawford, and Ralph Steiner"
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York. "Lines of Power"
Rosa Esman Gallery, New York. "Photoabstractions II"
1978
Philadelphia College of Art. "Seventies Painting"

Member of the Society of Independent Artists
1972  National Academy of Design

Ralston Crawford sold work

Works by the artist may be found at the Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, National Gallery of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Carter Museum.

Grace Gluek. "Ralston Crawford: Multiple Manipulations in Space, Line and Color"  The New York Times. May 11, 2001.

Barbara Haskell. Ralston Crawford. Whitney Museum of American Art. New York: 1986.

Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS): Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Askart.com
http://www.askart.com/AskART/artists/biography.aspx?searchtype=BIO&artist=30023

Artnet.com http://www.artnet.com/Artists/ArtistHomePage.aspx?artist_id=4576&page_tab=Bio_and_links

Peter Hastings Falk, editor-in chief. Who was who in American art 1564-1975: 400 years of artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999. Page 769.

Major Joseph J. George. "European Weather." Air Force, 26 (June 1943), pp. 20-21. Weather charts by Ralston Crawford.