Ralston Crawford (1906-1978)
Third Avenue Elevated #1
Sheet (Irregular): 13 × 19 3/4 in. (33 × 50.2 cm) Image: 10 7/16 × 17 3/8 in. (26.5 × 44.1 cm)
Printed by Desjobert
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Charles Simon
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
After photographing the elevated trains in Lower Manhattan during the 1940s, Ralston Crawford translated these images into other media, including prints. He particularly favored lithography for its potential to create simplified forms and pared down geometries—he called it “a most reductive medium.” In 1951, Crawford completed the Third Avenue Elevated lithographs, a series of eight images printed in Paris. In these works, including Third Avenue Elevated #1, he arranged the composition into flat planes of color, in which the subject is deliberately lost in pattern. Describing his process, the artist stated: “I don’t feel obligated to reveal the forms. They may be totally absent to the viewer of the work, or even to myself, but what is there, however abstract, grows out of something that I have seen.” The crisp, planar style Crawford developed in prints such as Third Avenue Elevated #1 anticipated the hard-edged painting that came into prominence in the late 1950s.