At first glance, Walton Ford s large-scale, highly-detailed watercolors of animals may recall the prints of 19th century illustrators John James Audubon and Edward Lear, and others of the colonial era. But a closer look reveals a complex and disturbingly anthropomorphic universe, full of symbols, sly jokes, and allusions to the 'operatic' nature of traditional natural history themes. The beasts and birds populating this contemporary artist's life-size paintings are never mere objects, but dynamic actors in allegorical struggles: a wild turkey crushes a small parrot in its claw; a troupe of monkeys wreak havoc on a formal dinner table, an American buffalo is surrounded by bloodied white wolves. The book's title derives from The Pancha Tantra, an ancient Indian book of animal tales considered the precursor to Aesop s Fables.
This large-format edition includes an in-depth exploration of Walton Ford s oeuvre, a complete biography, and excerpts from his textual inspirations: Vietnamese folktales and the letters of Benjamin Franklin, the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Audubon s Ornithological Biography.
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* Limited to 1,500 individually numbered copies, each signed by Walton Ford
* Printed on acid-free paper
* Finished in Luxor book cloth with a leather spine and corners with gold embossing
* Packaged in a clamshell box covered in Luxor book cloth
Walton Ford grew up in Westchester County, New York, in a family of gifted storytellers. As a child he was an amateur naturalist--collecting animals, hiking, fishing, and devoting much of his free time to examining and drawing the dioramas and specimens at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He completed his studies in filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1982, but soon adapted his talent for storytelling to painting. His life-size watercolors, which at first glance appear to be in the vein of 19th-century natural-history painters like John J. Audubon or Edward Lear, are actually complexly layered fantasies depicting wild animals in unnatural settings and situations, and cite textual sources ranging from the letters of Benjamin Franklin to the journals of Leonardo da Vinci. Ford lived in New York City for most of the 1980s and '90s--home base for personally and professional influential travels to countries including Italy, India, and Mexico--and for some years supported himself as a wood refinisher, carpenter, metalworker, and illustrator, while developing his craft and audience. His work has been exhibited widely since 1987 at private galleries and public institutions including The Whitney Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York, Michael Cohn Gallery in Los Angeles. He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. He now lives, works, and hikes in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.
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