Painting of the Week / Thomas Abbs

Painting of the Week: 52

Painting of the Week: 52

Ralston Crawford (1906-1978), Overseas Highway, 1939, oil on canvas, 45.7 x 76.2 cm, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, 1978.

In Overseas Highway Ralston Crawford utilises linear perspective to create a dramatic, somewhat surreal, effect – an effect achieved by reducing details to an absolute minimum while emphasising flat colour, shape and form. Crawford is often associated with the Precisionist movement, including artists like Charles Sheeler and Georgia O’Keefe. Like these artists, Crawford liked to depict urban subjects with clean, sharp lines, whilst ignoring the negative side of city and industrial life – you know, like disease, decay and crime.

Whilst writing this week’s entry, discussion in the office today has led to what this painting reminds us of. For me, what immediately springs to my mind is one-point perspective drawing in a draughty high-school classroom; for others, Tony Soprano’s ‘Big Pussy is a fish’ dream from The Sopranos; and for one, who shall remain nameless, it conjures up Gary Barlow’s Open Road. Believe me, no matter how great temptation gets, do not click that last link; conversely, regardless how little you are tempted, do check out Twentieth-century American Painting for more details about Ralston Crawford. TA

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