On View

Worth Steel Plant

Photo Credit: Richard Sanders, Des Moines

Worth Steel Plant

Artist: Ralston Crawford (American, born Canada, 1906 - 1978)
Date: 1936
Medium: Oil on canvas
Frame: 33 1/2 × 41 5/8 × 1 1/2 in. (85.1 × 105.7 × 3.8 cm.)
Canvas (/image): 32 × 40 in. (81.3 × 101.6 cm.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Richard T. Fisher, the Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Peder T. Madsen, and the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Charitable Trust, 1977.23
Accession number: 1977.23
Classification: painting
Copyright:Ralston Crawford Estate
Label TextWorth Steel Plant is quite characteristic of Ralston Crawford's work, both thematically and stylistically. Factories, bridges, boxcars, grain elevators, ships and docks are among subjects which frequently recur in his paintings. Detail has been reduced to a minimum and the color areas are flat with very little modulation. Only in the depiction of the grass in the foreground has the artist broken his color to differentiate the organic nature of the grass with the stark block-like forms of the factory against a cloudless pale blue sky. According to a letter from Crawford, the Worth Steel Plant was located "on the route of the old Pennsylvania Railroad at or very near Claymont, Delaware...near the Pennsylvania stateline." Crawford was born in 1906 in St. Catherines, Ontario, near Buffalo, New York where his family moved when he was still a boy. His interest turned to art at an early age and he studied in art schools in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Paris and at Columbia University in New York. By the end of the 1930's he had established his reputation not only as a painter but as a lithographer and photographer as well. He taught throughout the United States. After serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, Crawford returned to art and teaching. Source: Bulletin, March-April, 1978.
SignedCrawford (l,r oil paint)
Exhibition History"Selected Cowles Family Gifts to the Permanent Collection," Des Moines Art Center, July 30 - Sept. 11, 1994

"Ralston Crawford," organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, N.Y., (circulated to: Whitney Museum of American Art, Oct. 2, 1985 - Feb. 2, 1986; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Apr. 19 - June 1, 1986; Portland Art Museum, OR, July 12 - Aug. 31, 1986; Akron Art Museum, OH, Sept. 19 - Nov. 2, 1986; Grand Rapids Art Museum, MI, Nov. 17, 1986 - Jan. 4, 1987)

Selected Works from the Des Moines Art Center's Permanent Collection," organized and circulated by the Waterloo Municipal Galleries, swponsored by the Nationbal Bank of Waterloo, Painting was not exhibited at the Waterloo Municipal Galleries, (circulated to: Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City, Jan. 15 - Feb. 22, 1984; Muscatine Art Center, Apr. 1 - May 13, 1984; Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, May 27 - July 1, 1984; Sioux City Art Center, July 15 - Aug. 26, 1984)

"Director's Choice," Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation, an exhibition of thirty-four works of art purchased with the Director's Discretionary Fund, 1973-1982, Des Moines Art Center, Sept. 13 - Nov. 13, 1983

"Lines of Power," Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc. N.Y., Mar. 12 - Apr. 9, 1977

"Ralston Crawford," by Helman Gallery, St. Louis, May 22 - June 25, 1971
Published ReferencesRichard B. Freeman, RALSTON CRAWFORD, University of Alabama Press, 1953, ill. no.13

Barbara Rose, "Ralston Crawford: American Modernist," in "Ralston Crawford," exh. cat., Helman Gallery, St. Louis, 1971

John Russell, "When the Belief In Technology Was Ironclad," NEW YORK TIMES, Arts and Leisure Section, Mar. 27, 1977, (review by Hirschl & Adler Galleeries' exhibition "Lines of Power")

James H. Maroney, Jr., "Lines of Power," Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., N. Y., 1977, color ill.

DMAC Bulletin, Mar./Apr. 1978 (cover ill.)

DES MOINES REGISTER, article by Nick Baldwin, Mar. 16, 1978, b/w ill.

"Director's Choice," Des Moines Art Center, 1983, b/w ill.

"Selected Works from the Des Moines Art Center's Permanent Collection," Waterloo Municipal Galleries, 1984, exh. cat. no.9

Barbara Haskell, "Ralston Crawford," Whitney Museum of American Art, N. Y., 1985, exh. cat. ref. p.158


ARCHI-SCAPES, Calendar, Pomegranate Calendars & Books, Petaluma, CA 94975, 1990, interior, full color ill.

AN UNCOMMON VISION: THE DES MOINES ART CENTER, Des Moines Art Center, 1998, ref. p.91, color ill. p.90

"Letters from John Cowles to His Family, 1943-1976; 1952", Edited by Elizabeth Ballantine, Durango Herald Press, 2005, cover ill.

entirely unexpected