Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs

This exhibition and accompanying catalogue examine the confluence of Ralston Crawford’s Torn Signs and Semana Santa series, two seemingly disparate themes connected by Crawford’s extraordinary visual memory, working method, and inventiveness. Over the course of four decades, Crawford recorded, transformed, and often merged his experiences and memories in photographs, drawings, etchings, paintings, and film. In 1938, Crawford first photographed a ripped and pasted over sign on the street in Philadelphia.


Crawford returned to the theme frequently in the last thirty years of his life, capturing the layered and weathered advertisements plastered around New York City. During this time, he also traveled frequently to Seville, Spain and in 1972, documented the experience of Holy Week. Crawford drew inspiration from a constellation of memory and invention that flowed in multiple directions at once. For him, the rhythmic images of hooded penitents processing through the streets for Holy Week recalled formal elements of his Torn Signs imagery. The convergence of these two incredible series culminated in the powerful, large-scale painting Torn Signs, 1974-76 (Vilcek Foundation Collection).

Start Date

June 10, 2019

End Date

November 13, 2019


11:30 AM - 01:30 PM


21 East 70th Street

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