American, born Canada,
Ninth Avenue Elevated
North America, American, New York
20 1/2 in. x 16 1/4 in. (52.07 cm x 41.28 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection
Currently On View
© Estate of Ralston Crawford / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
The simple, reductive compositions of painter/photographer Ralston Crawford demonstrate his significance as an abstractionist of the early twentieth century. While many of his American contemporaries felt compelled by political and economic pressures to adopt polemical, figurative subject matter, Crawford embraced the real by abstracting it.
The most important formative experiences of Crawford's art student years took place in suburban Merion, Pennsylvania, where he attended weekly talks held in the home of collector Albert Barnes. Barnes convinced the young artist that subject matter was irrelevant to the quality of a work of art, and that formal properties were the chief determinants of content.
Specific themes interested Crawford consistently over the course of his career. New York's elevated train system was one such theme, depicted repeatedly in paintings, photographs and lithographs. Like other examples of Crawford's work from the 1930s, "Ninth Avenue Elevated" is monolithic in its hard-edged, architectonic form, a visual metaphor for the economic power of American industry.
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 82, p. 196. (Note:This painting was previously known and published as "Under the Third Avenue El, (The Brewery)".