Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio

April 12 through October 20, 2024

American artist Walton Ford (b. 1960) established his reputation in the 1990s with his monumental watercolor paintings of wild animals inspired by true or legendary stories of dramatic encounters between humankind and nature. Fascinated by the perception of wilderness in the collective imagination and by the consequences of human behavior—from colonialism to climate change—for the future of wildlife species, Ford develops complex narratives that have renewed the genre of animal painting. This exhibition celebrates the gift from the artist to the Morgan of sixty-three studies, including detailed renderings made from observation in zoos and museums of natural history, quick compositional sketches, and small watercolors in which he establishes his color scheme. The exhibition also features a selection of animal drawings and prints by earlier artists, from Rembrandt and Dorothea Maria Gsell to Eugène Delacroix, Antoine-Louis Barye, and John James Audubon, selected by Ford from the Morgan’s collection.

This exhibition is organized by Isabelle Dervaux, former Acquavella Curator and Department Head of Modern and Contemporary Drawings, and Jennifer Tonkovich, Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of Drawings and Prints.

Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio is supported by the Alex Gordon Fund for Exhibitions, Thomas J. Reid and Christina M. Pae, Gagosian, Alyce Williams Toonk, and Bettina Bryant. The exhibition is a program of the Morgan Drawing Institute.

Walton Ford (b. 1960),
Study for “Verfolgen”, 2018
Watercolor, gouache, and ink over graphite
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the artist, 2019.213. © 2024 Walton Ford.

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