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Walton Ford in "Humor"

A voracious reader of colonial letters and diaries, Walton Ford is fascinated by the fear and wonder of nature that he finds in historical texts. “The big thing I’m always looking for in my work is a sort of attraction-repulsion, where the stuff is beautiful to begin with until you notice that some sort of horrible violence is about to happen or is in the middle of happening.”

Commenting on a large watercolor depicting a frenzy of birds falling with a massive branch, he explains that the birds are “satisfying all their lusts…as they are going down.” Contrasting the romanticized tradition of Audubon with the destructive qualities of existence, Ford merges a dreamlike vision with a frenetic and comic reality.

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Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Assistant Curator: Wesley Miller. Production Manager: Alice Bertoni & Laura Recht. Production Coordinator: Kelly Shindler & Sara Simonson. Director of Education & Outreach: Jessica Hamlin. Producer: Catherine Tatge. Editor: Steven Wechsler. Host Segment Artist: Charles Atlas. Host: Margaret Cho. Host Segment Guest: Bruce Daniels. Director of Photography: Bob Elfstrom, Mead Hunt, Ken Kobland, Kirk Miller, & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Tom Bergin, Doug Dunderdale, Richard Fleming, Judith Karp, Mark Mandler, Martyn Truman, & Bill Wander. Gaffer/Grip: Ned Hallick, Cricket Peters, Andrew Wilson, & Jesse Wine. Assistant Camera: Jarred Alterman, Craig Feldman, Brian Hwang, & Kipjaz Savoie. Production Assistant: Eric Kutner, Ronny Merdinger, Dawn Watson, & Pamela Whidden. Assistant Avid Editors: Julie Farol, Geoff Gruetzmacher, Daniel Nelson, & Jeremy Siefer. Still Photography: Alice Bertoni & Bob Elfstrom.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Graphic Design & Animation: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Voice-Over Artist: Jace Alexander. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack F/T. Animation Stand: Frank Ferrigno & Frame:Runner NYC.

Artworks courtesy of: Eleanor Antin; Walton Ford; Elizabeth Murray; Raymond Pettibon; Electronic Arts Intermix, New York; Ronald Feldman Fine Arts; Paul Kasmin Gallery; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; & David Zwirner Gallery.

Special Thanks: The American Museum of Natural History; The Art21 Board of Trustees; Jamie Bennett; Andrea and Eric Colombel; Cate Ellison; Bruce Gluck; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; PaceWildenstein; Sallie Slate; Karen Taussig; Jonathan Turer; & Wingate Studio.

Interns: Sharon Ber, Elana Davidian, Eliza Geddes, Karmin Guzder, Ehren Joseph, Lisa Kalikow, Lila Kanner, Crystal Kui, Daniela Leonard, Ronny Merdinger, Parth Savla, Kristen Smith, Whitney Smith, Morgan Soloski, Jo-ey Tang, Asya Varshishky, Jesse Whittle-Utter, & Jeremy Zilar.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman. Bookkeeper: William Handy.

Major underwriting for Season 2 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Bloomberg, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Nonprofit Finance Fund, JPMorgan Chase, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, New York Arts Recovery Fund, Peter Norton Family Foundation, New York Times Company Foundation, Dorothea L. Leonhart Foundation, and Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Walton Ford

Blending depictions of natural history with political commentary, Walton Ford’s meticulously painted large-scale watercolors satirize the history of colonialism and the continuing impact of slavery and other forms of political oppression on today’s social and environmental landscape. Each painting is as much a tutorial in flora and fauna as it is as a scathing indictment of the wrongs committed by nineteenth-century industrialists or—locating the work in the present—contemporary American consumer society.

“The big thing I’m always looking for in my work is a sort of attraction-repulsion, where the stuff is beautiful to begin with until you notice that some sort of horrible violence is about to happen or is in the middle of happening.”

Walton Ford

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Political Humor and Colonial Critique

Artist Walton Ford discusses his work’s relationship to colonialism and political humor.