Modernism and other Twentieth Century

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Ralston Crawford
Bora Bora II, 1975
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Signed with initials at lower left: RC

The artist;
His estate, in 1976;
By descent in the family to the present owner

Ralston Crawford is perhaps best known for his depictions of rural and maritime industry in the 1930s and 40s, but the painter developed his Precisionist approach into a proto-Pop style in the postwar years. He worked steadily throughout his career in a variety of media, including photography and lithography, using these practices both as finished artworks and as studies for his painting. This recycling of imagery and media produced a rich body of work that approaches abstraction and anticipates Pop and Minimalism.

In 1974, Ralston Crawford traveled around the world, with stops in London, Paris, Bangkok, Bali, Afghanistan, Tahiti, and the location of this painting: Bora Bora. On the deck of the boat on which he traveled, he took several photographs, printing four or more different negatives when he got back to his studio in New York. At his easel, he returned to the photographs and produced three canvases: Bora Bora, Bora Bora II, and Masts and Rigging. The present work, one of the series, carefully knocks out indicators of depth and form. The artist meticulously chose which planes to silence and which to reveal, drawing on the Precisionist tradition to animate flattened planes of color. The subject matter is retrievable, but the composition gently resists identification.


Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1985, Ralston Crawford, illus. // University of Wyoming, Laramie, 2014, Ralston Crawford: The Artist’s Eye, p. 25


Barbara Haskell, Ralston Crawford (1985), Whitney Museum of American Art, p. 135 // Susan Moldenhauer, Ralston Crawford: The Artist’s Eye, 2014, p. 25

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