Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio

American artist Walton Ford and Jennifer Tonkovich, our Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of Drawings and Prints, discuss the artist’s current exhibition Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio. Ford 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.

Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio is open to the public now through October 20, 2024.