In Conversation: Walton Ford and David Salle

Friday, May 10, 2024 6–7 PM

Advance registration is strongly encouraged to guarantee seating. Limited seats may be available the day of the program on a first-come basis.


Join artists and friends Walton Ford and David Salle for a wide-ranging, entertaining, and thought-provoking conversation about artistic practice, storytelling, finding inspiration in nature, human behavior, and more. Through an exploration of works in Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio, and animal drawings by earlier artists in the Morgan’s collection, Ford and Salle will discuss exhibition themes and artmaking processes central to Ford’s work throughout his career, uncovering unexpected connections along the way.

Following the program, Ford will sign copies of Pancha Tantra, the new and most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to date.

Walton Ford’s expansive watercolor paintings appropriate the informative detail and narrative scope of traditional natural history art only to subvert its conventions. Ford draws on his extensive research into disparate visual and written sources, including naturalists’ illustrations and dioramas, scientific field studies, explorers’ accounts, and zookeepers’ manuals, as well as fables and mythology, historical art, and Hollywood movies. Imaginatively interpreting events rooted in these materials, he frequently inscribes the paintings with marginal texts that provide additional glosses of meaning. Representing touchpoints of cultural and natural history, he alludes to colonialism, extinction, and the ecological consequences of the Anthropocene epoch, tempering his works’ violence, tragedy, and eulogies for the natural world with moments of wit and satire.

David Salle is a painter, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer. His work combines popular or commercial imagery with images made from direct observation and a range of art historical references to create a personal pictorial language. Salle’s layered paintings have an immediate visual impact and unfold over time with close looking and contemplation. A member of the influential Pictures Generation, he earned a BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with John Baldessari. In addition to his prolific studio practice, Salle is a writer and frequently contributes to publications such as Artforum, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and Art News, and is the author of, How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking About Art.

This program takes place in Gilder Lehrman Hall on the Ground Floor. Doors to the Hall will open 30 minutes before the program begins, and seating is on a first come, first served basis. The book signing will take place on Floor 1 next to the shop immediately following the lecture. The exhibition, Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio, will be open throughout the day before the program.

Walton Ford (b. 1960), Study 2 for “Leipzig,” 2018. Watercolor, gouache, and ink over graphite, The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the artist, 2019.230. © 2024 Walton Ford. Photography by Janny Chiu.

Please call (212) 685-0008 ext. 560 or e-mail for information.