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Leslie Hindman Auctineers
Vermont Summer Book Fair 2024
Booksellers’ Gulch
Biblio
Potter Auctions
40th Annual Rocky Mountain Book & Paper Fair
PRB&M/SessaBks at The Arsenal
Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair
Swann Galleries
Freeman
Addison & Sarova, the Rare Book Auctioneers

The Morgan Library & Museum Presents: Walton Ford: Birds and Beasts of the Studio

The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to present Walton Ford:Birds and Beasts of the Studio. Opening April 12 and on view through October 20, 2024, the exhibition celebrates the 2019 gift from artist Walton Ford (b. 1960) to the Morgan of sixty-three studies and sketches, shown publicly for the first time. Ford is fascinated by the perception of wild animals in the human imagination, and his monumental watercolors subvert historical conventions of animal painting. This exhibition examines the artist’s working process, illuminating the role that historical, literary, cultural, and scientific research plays in his practice. Presented together with drawings of animals and birds selected by the artist from the Morgan’s holdings, this exhibition sheds new light on the museum’s collection from the perspective of a living artist.

Birds and Beasts of the Studio opens with a selection of Ford’s drawings inspired by his visits to the American Museum of Natural History, New York. To this day, he visits the museum to explore its archives, field studies, documents, and taxidermy specimens. This section of the exhibition reveals the extensive scientific research that grounds Ford’s artistic practice, which relies on attention to detail and the accuracy of animal features.

The second section presents some of Ford’s studies and watercolors that imagine encounters between lions and humans, and are largely based on true stories. These works include a series centered on the Barbary lion — a now extinct subspecies which fought gladiators in ancient Rome and was used as the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) mascot. Also on view are compositional sketches from a series inspired by the escape of eight lions in Leipzig in 1913, as well as a work in which a lion devours famed Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863). Though humans hardly appear in Ford’s work, the interest of human culture is always evident. Similarly, the works in the third section elaborate on the story of a black panther that escaped the Zurich Zoo and spent weeks alone in the countryside before being caught and eaten by a farmer. In dozens of paintings and drawings, Ford visualizes the panther surviving in the snowy Alps. While some pieces depict the panther from the point of view of Swiss villagers, others imagine the animal’s viewpoint, or feature dreamlike apparitions. These sections are followed by a selection of titles from Ford’s personal library, bringing focus to his literary source material. The presentation highlights the wide range of texts in Ford’s collection, from volumes of natural history and early colonial travel diaries to folktales and
fables.

The installation concludes with a presentation of pieces selected by Ford from the Morgan’s extensive holdings, accompanied by wall texts written by the artist. Ford’s commentary highlights his expertise on artistic depictions of animals throughout the centuries, providing insights into the creative process in many of these works. The selection features some of the Morgan’s finest animal drawings executed between the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries, including work by Rembrandt van Rijn, John
James Audubon, Eugène Delacroix, and Beatrix Potter. Highlights of the exhibition include three of Ford’s large- scale watercolors on loan from private collections, paired with their respective studies.

Shown alongside exceptional works selected by the artist from our collection, in addition to being introduced to Walton’s working practice, visitors will also have the opportunity to encounter historic works through the perspective of a living artist.”

April 12–October 6, 2024 The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street New York, NY 10016. For more information contact: Noreen Khalid Ahmad (917) 805-4128.