Stunningly Beautiful

This issue of Elle Decor is particularly good.  Perhaps save the whole issue good.  There has been a lot to take in, but one of my favorite layouts was Hank Azaria’s apartment photographed by William Walden.  And one of my favorite things about the apartment was the Walton Ford watercolor over the sofa.

Ford is certainly not my discovery.  He is the subject of a PBS special, two books and countless articles.  I don’t know how I have been unaware of his work as it is captivating and right up my alley.

To begin, it’s large.  You can see that the piece hanging over Azaria’s sofa is quite big.  The sofa is 18 feet.  I almost always want to size up, keeping with my drama queen nature.

The subject matter is so striking.  Ford wanted to recreate the feel of Audubon, but add an element of violence.  The pieces are purely beautiful at first glance, but there is something unpleasant in the scene.  Ford told PBS that the works, “satirize the history of colonialism and the continuing impact of political oppression on today’s social and environmental landscape.”

When I was young, younger than eight because my parents were still married, I drew a picture of two little girls in lovely dresses.  They stood about three feet apart.  One was saying, “I hate you.”  The other replied, “I hate you, too.”  Now, as a parent, I understand the flurry of conversations both with me and whispered about me, but at the time it was puzzling.  Nothing had happened, no fight with a friend, it was just, things aren’t always pleasant.  Unpleasantness makes people quite uncomfortable.

I wish I could have seen the exhibit of Ford’s work in Brooklyn in 2002.  Doubly so because I could have flown to New York, had dinner with my big city friend and stayed at the Gramercy Park for what Taschen’s book would set me back.

But it’s so big.  And so pretty.  Foldouts, too.  I hate you, Taschen.
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13 thoughts on “Stunningly Beautiful

  1. i’ve also loved his work since i first saw it years ago. it is, as you state, “stunningly beautiful”, but with that perversely sinister element as a counter point to all that gorgeousness, and while i’ve always known i could never afford one of his actual works, i’m very bummed to find out that i can’t even afford a book on his work either…


  2. I have saved every tear sheet touting Ford. The realism and the obscurity of his work haunts me.
    I would love to know more about his childhood and if there was some love – hate relationship with his biology teacher or obsession with James Audubon.
    Better yet, did he long to be a magician? His work is magical.

  3. I agree that this was the best issue in quite awhile! I read it all in one sitting the other night and plan on rereading it this weekend! It’s hard to know what all to clip for my files -the whole issue is fantastic!

  4. I’ve been dreaming about owning one of his pieces for years, but it hasn’t happened yet 🙁
    Tory Burch has a very large Ford in her entryway- you can see it in the Vogue spread from a few years back.

  5. You’re right – I missed so much when I first glanced at them. When I really looked at them it was a whole other experience. Really interesting post.

  6. People always talk about the cost of beauty.” Makes me think Assouline and Taschan.

    Ford’s work qualifies as sublime and reminds me of the old “Africa” joke of the scorpion and the hippo. “Alors, c’est L’Afrique.”

  7. What a great post! I recently bought Atlas of Human Anatomy & Surgery – a large Taschen book – granted it’s not animals (actually, there are a few pictures of animals) – it’s odd & can make you uncomfortable but so fascinating, I can’t put it down – you should check it out!

  8. It’s funny you mention this, because he actually has an exhibition at the Paul Kasmin Gallery. It’s running May 8th thru July 3rd, so you might be in luck. I wish I could go, but I can’t afford New York right now.

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