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Josephine Crawford: An Artist’s Vision

This spring The Historic New Orleans Collection celebrated the life and work of New Orleans artist Josephine Marien Crawford (1878–1952) with the release of a biography, Josephine Crawford: An Artist’s Vision, and an accompanying exhibition at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street.

Young Woman Wearing White Gloves, between 1928 and 1935, (1978.23.4), bequest of Charles C. Crawford

Young Woman Wearing White Gloves, between 1928 and 1935, (1978.23.4), bequest of Charles C. Crawford

Showcasing a selection of Crawford’s works, the free exhibition was on view March 31–August 29, 2009, Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The fully illustrated biography sells for $30 and is available at the WRC and The Shop at The Collection, at 533 Royal Street or (504) 598-7147.

The Artist

Described by art critic George Jordan as “one of the most experimental painters of the New South between 1900 and 1950,” Josephine Crawford began to study art seriously in her mid-40s. In the 1920s she enrolled in the art school of the of Arts and Crafts Club, the center of artistic interest in New Orleans from the late 1920s to the late 1940s. Immediately, art columnists took notice, marveling at the discovery of a previously unknown talent in their midst. One New Orleans critic commented in 1927, “The paintings of Miss Josephine Crawford aroused a great deal of interest not only for their exceptional merit and individuality but also for the fact that this is the first year that Miss Crawford has done any sort of painting.”

Rue Kerlerec, 1934, courtesy of Micheline M. Bator; photograph by Michael Gould

Rue Kerlerec, 1934, courtesy of Micheline M. Bator; photograph by Michael Gould

In the winter of 1927–28 Crawford studied in Paris with French master André Lhote at his academy in Montparnasse, a pivotal time in her development as an artist. Assimilating Lhote’s teachings and the tenets of modernism, Crawford developed a style that was distinctly her own. In 1934, she won the Arts and Crafts Club’s prestigious Blanche Benjamin Prize for Rue Kerlerec, a stark portrait of a Creole widow. Active through the 1940s, Crawford exhibited in New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Central America.

The Exhibition

The exhibition, which sought to recreate the world Crawford’s creative milieu, presented a selection of her paintings and drawings from the holdings of The Historic New Orleans Collection, other repositories, and private lenders. Highlights included portraits, still lifes, sketchbooks and a remarkable series of portraits painted on the wallpaper of her Royal Street studio. The exhibition was complemented by photographs of Josephine, her family and André Lhote.

The Book

In Josephine Crawford: An Artist’s Vision, author Louise C. Hoffman skillfully recreates the Parisian and New Orleans art worlds in the first half of the 20th century. Featuring more than 70 paintings and drawings by the prolific artist and works by André Lhote, Josephine Crawford: An Artist’s Vision marks the third entry in the Louisiana Artist Biography Series established by The Historic New Orleans Collection in 2003 and funded by The Collection’s Laussat Society. The fully illustrated biography sells for $30 and is available at the WRC and The Shop at The Collection, 533 Royal Street or (504) 598-7147.

The Author

Bonnets, between 1934 and April 15, 1935 (1978.23.69), bequest of Charles C. Crawford

Bonnets, between 1934 and April 15, 1935 (1978.23.69), bequest of Charles C. Crawford

Louise C. Hoffman is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Formerly an editor at The Historic New Orleans Collection, she is now a freelance writer living in New Orleans.

Josephine Crawford: An Artist’s Vision
March 31–August 29, 2009
Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Boyd Cruise Room, Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street
Free and open to the public.

Read the Times-Picayune’s feature article on the biography (dated April 8, 2009).

 

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