The Brandywine River Museum’s special exhibit on artist Ralston Crawford presents a different side of the artist than that seen in his well-known, 1930s work, writes Thomas Hine for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Crawford is famous for painting infrastructure devoid of people — soaring bridges, endless causeways, massive dams, huge grain elevators.
The paintings glorify engineering and advanced technology that would lift us out of the Great Depression.
But the Brandywine exhibit, “Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War,” comes from a different era in Ralston’s life — during and immediately after World War II.
Here is shown the reality of violence; streamlined surfaces end in sharp shards, and meaning is elusive.
Ralston’s war experience complicated his view of technology. Paintings became more abstract. The exhibit includes pen-and-ink drawings the artist used to develop his paintings, and you can see how he transformed the mechanical world into oil paintings filled with emotion.
Crawford studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in the early 1930s.
He later moved to Chadds Ford, studying with illustrator Howard Pyle and at the Barnes Foundation.
The exhibit runs through Sept. 19.
Read more in The Philadelphia Inquirer about a new exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum.