Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio

April 12 through October 6, 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 by earlier artists, from Peter Paul Rubens and Maria Sibylla Merian 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, Acquavella Curator and Department Head of Modern and Contemporary Drawings.

Walton Ford (b. 1960), Leipzig Study 2, 2018, watercolor, gouache, and ink over graphite on paper, 7 3/4 x 15 1/4 in. The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the artist, 2019.230. (c) 2023 Walton Ford.