Walton Ford’s paintings of the beast kingdom

By snurfson / Posted on 19 January 2011

Beautiful Beasts with Murderous Intent
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.

Walton Ford Borodino, 2009 watercolor, gouache, pencil, and ink on paper

This large-format limited 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. Ford’s paintings have been color-separated and reproduced in Pan4C, the finest serigraphic technique available, providing unequalled intensity and color range. The book includes 12 horizontal and 4 vertical foldouts that look awesome when you stand over them. And you will.
Available in an Art and a Collector’s Edition, Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra is signed by the artist and presented in a custom clamshell box.

Collector’s Edition
(No. 101–1,600)
• Limited to 1,600 individually numbered copies, each signed by Walton Ford
• Printed on archival-quality paper
• Finished in book cloth with a leather spine and corners with gold embossing
• Packaged in a clamshell box covered in Luxor book cloth

Both editions feature a complete biography and nexcerpts from the textual sources for the paintings: Vietnamese folktales, the letters of Benjamin Franklin, the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and John James Audubon’s Ornithological Biography.

Walton Ford The Island, 2009 watercolor, gouache, pencil, and ink on paper

The artist:
Walton Ford, born 1960 in Larchmont, NY, graduated in filmmaking from RISD, but switched to large-scale watercolor painting. His work has been widely exhibited, including shows at the Whitney and Brooklyn museums. He lives and works in Massachusetts.

The author:
Bill Buford is an author and New Yorker staff writer, as well as the founding editor of Granta, which he edited for 16 years. His books include Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as a Kitchen Slave. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.

Text quoted from Taschen.





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