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Walton Ford (Born 1960), Pestvogel

Walton Ford (Born 1960), Pestvogel

  • $ 24,000.00

Waxwing invasions are one of those natural dramas that seem to force themselves upon our attention. In Europe they were recorded as early as 1552 in the vicinity of the Rhine by the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner. Such was the impact of these sudden, inexplicable arrivals that Bohemian Waxwings were once loaded with sinister import (although none of these baleful associations seem to have attached to the Cedar Waxwing in America). Old names for the species included 'Pestvogel' ('plague-bird') which is still the bird's name in Dutch, as well as 'unglückvogel, pestilenzvogel, and todtenvogel' in German-speaking areas (respectively, 'disaster-bird', 'pestilence-bird' and 'death bird'). A widely recorded waxwing invasion during the winter of 1913/14 was later assumed to be a foreboding omen for the calamity that ensued the following summer - the First World War. (Mark Cocker, Birds and People, London: Jonathan Cape, 2013, p 407.)

Turning the work of naturalist and painter John James Audubon on its head, Walton Ford imbues the flora and fauna in his own watercolors and prints with sex, violence, and melodrama. His aim is to satirically comment on the history of colonialism, slavery, and other forms of oppression. The beauty and naturalism of his meticulously rendered scenes belie their comedic grotesqueness. As he explains, “I think that there’s almost no subject that you can’t treat with some humor, no matter how brutal it can seem.”

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