Published titles > Art > Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War
Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War cover image
UK £45.00
US $70.00
Hardback with jacket
232 pages
270 illustrations
29 x 25 cm (11.5 x 9.75 in)
ISBN: 978-1-8589-4691-7
Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War

Rick Kinsel, Emily Schuchardt Navratil, Amanda C. Burdan, Jerry N. Smith and John Crawford

American art underwent a transformation in the period 1940–55, and nowhere is that change better exemplified than in the work of Ralston Crawford (1906–1978). Crawford’s painting during the 1930s had largely been a series of dazzling Precisionist works that reflected advances in industry and engineering. After the United States entered World War II, Crawford served in the Weather Division of the Army Air Forces. He created pictorial representations of weather patterns for pilots, and was exposed to countless photographs of air crashes. He continued working as an artist throughout the conflict, receiving a commission to paint the Curtiss-Wright aircraft plant in Buffalo, New York, and, in 1946, an assignment from Fortune magazine to record one of the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. These experiences had a profound impact on Crawford, and marked a major turning point in his life and art. This exciting new book presents a remarkable selection of Crawford’s paintings, drawings, photographs and prints from this pivotal time. Accompanying the artworks are five perceptive essays that consider Crawford’s war years in the context of developments in both aviation and American art; the evolution of his aerial imagery throughout the 1940s; his visual storytelling, particularly his work for Fortunehis use of photography and lithography; and early 20th-century paintings of aircraft and flight as a means by which to explore how aviation redefined our understanding of air, space and war.


An illuminating new study of the artist Ralston Crawford, focusing on his wartime experiences and the influence of aviation on his work

With contributions from experts on American modernism and Crawford scholars, including his son John 

Accompanies an exhibition opening at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in June 2021, then travelling

Published in association with the Vilcek Foundation, New York

Buy online
Find your local bookstore
Bookmark and Share
Author Profiles

Rick Kinsel has been on the board of directors of the Vilcek Foundation since its establishment in 2000. He became Executive Director of the foundation in 2003 and President in 2016, in which role he manages the Vilcek Collection, conceives and facilitates the curation of travelling exhibitions based on the collection, and oversees the foundation’s primary operations in the award of prizes and grants in the arts, sciences and humanities.

Emily Schuchardt Navratil is Curator at the Vilcek Foundation. She has worked with the Vilcek Collection since 2009, previously serving as Associate Curator, Assistant Curator and Curatorial Assistant. For the foundation, she has curated the exhibitions With Color (2013, to coincide with the publication by Merrell of Masterpieces of American Modernism from the Vilcek Collection), Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs (2019; catalogue published by Merrell) and Marsden Hartley: Adventurer in the Arts (2020; catalogue published by Merrell).

Amanda C. Burdan is Curator at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where she has worked since 2012. A specialist in American art, she has organized many exhibitions of the fine and decorative arts in the United States, several of which have explored regional expressions of American art and the transfer of styles from European sources. She previously served as Assistant Curator at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Jerry N. Smith is Chief Curator and Director of Education at the Dayton Art Institute. He was formerly Curator of American and European Art at Phoenix Art Museum and Interim Director and Chief Curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida. He has overseen more than 50 diverse exhibitions, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation (2015), Andy Warhol: Portraits (2015), The Art of the Classical Guitar (2016) and Dorothy Height’s Hats (2019). His publications include Howard Post: Western Perspectives (2013) and Don Coen: The Migrant Series (2014).

John Crawford is the son of Ralston Crawford. After studying sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, he moved to Italy in 1976 and was apprenticed for 10 years to Tuscan blacksmiths. Since returning to New York City, he has made sculpture using large- and small-scale industrial forging and machining techniques. His work has been exhibited at numerous venues in New York and other states. His research on his father’s art has focused primarily on the photographs as a lens through which to study Crawford’s paintings, drawings and lithographs.

Foreign Rights Enquiries
Rights are available
  • Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War sample spread #1
  • Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War sample spread #2
  • Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War sample spread #3
  • Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War sample spread #4
  • Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War sample spread #5
  • Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War sample spread #6