280610: Albertina Walton Ford – Bestiarium

Albertina Walton Ford – Bestiarium 18.06.10 - 10.10.10 The Animal time-machine Viewing Walton Ford’s huge monkey painting “The Sensorium” (2003, 152,4 x 302,3 cm) and at the same time keeping European animal paintings of the 19th century in mind, one is reminded of the Gründerzeit painter Paul Meyerheim (1842-1915), whose “Monkey Banquet” is displayed at the Harvard Museum in Boston. The comparison between Ford’s painting and that of Meyerheim clearly points to the parallels as well as the differences of this genre. Ford, born 1960 in Larchmont in the state of New York, and who lives in Massachusetts, was fascinated by the works displayed at the Museum of Natural History in New York and by John James Audubon's works (1785 – 1851), the famous ornithologist and animal illustrator. With his large-format paintings rendered in the style of his inspirational sources, Ford developed a unique style. Despite being a modern animal painter he is equally determined to depict his objects in great detail, and like the old masters he narrates civilisation- and cultural critical stories with these remarkably large format aquarelle paintings. It is not a coincidence that Ford’s monumental polar bear scene in “Novaya Zemlya Still Life” (2006) resembles Edwin Landseer’s painting “Man proposes, God disposes” (1863-64), bringing Benjamin Franklin’s catastrophic polar expedition back to memory. The allegoric moment of Ford’s animal paintings cannot be overlooked. The analogy of the battle for survival of the Tasmanian wolf in “The Island” (2009), a painting composed like a triptych, reminds of the extinction of the Australian mammal. The settlers discredited the predator as a “gory hunter” - after having introduced sheep into the region. The paintings are set in contrast to historical texts and reports by contemporary witnesses thereby casting an interesting light on the relationship of humans and animals over the course of history. The curators rightfully describe Ford’s work as truly singular in contemporary art. His work is undoubtedly remarkable and his paintings, a mixed technique of aquarelle and gouache colours, ink and pencil on paper, surprises with its loosely set brush strokes. Only at a distance do the feathers and fur attain their vitality. But after a while, the question arises whether the artistic media used is really “contemporary”. Does this 19th century form of animal painting offer anything new about the condition of our planet? Is the use of an old and tried form of art not falling prey to a mannerist style? Whatever the answers may be, the exhibition offers unusual insights for all those who are interested in animal depictions and/or contemporary US painting. By Kai Artinger Albertina 1010 Vienna, Albertinaplatz 1 Tel: +43 1 534 83 -0 Fax: +43 1 533 76 97 email: info@albertina.at http:www.albertina.at

1010 Wien, Albertinaplatz 1
Tel: +43 1 534 83 -0, Fax: +43 1 533 76 97
Email: info@albertina.at
Öffnungszeiten: Tägl. 10-18h, Mi 10-21 h

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