Russell Crotty (1956 - San Rafael, California)
The Bergfeld Array, 2013
ink and watercolor on paper on fiberglass spheres
About the Work
The overall theme of The Bergfeld Array is Crotty's signature California landscape work, having grown up in Marin and Mendocino. The globes are fabricated in fiberglass then covered with archival paper by professional paper conservators. Crotty draws directly onto the coated globe with a special archival ballpoint pen over a wash of watercolor, gouache, or acrylic. Well known for paper-coated suspended globes and large-scale books containing a fervent network of ballpoint pen lines and color washes, Crotty’s vast body of work challenges the definition of drawing, pushing the genre towards minimal sculptural installation. The artist's practice chronicles his idiosyncratic commentary on aspects of the natural and manmade world. Direct physical engagement with the subject is at the heart of the work, with on-site field notes made in sketchbooks. These experiences become the context for his peculiar taxonomies -- of night skies, rock formations, coastal range ridgelines, seascapes, etc. Fields of text, a hybrid of rant and prose, refer to Crotty’s ruminations about the specific locality with which he’s engaging. The text serves not only as a formal drawing element denoting strata and volume, but also a discourse for his fixation on place, turf, and bearings.
“It was important to find art that would complement the space and not detract from the awesomeness of the high ceiling. The beauty and calmness of Russell’s globes is the perfect fit. They reflect nature and at the same time do not interfere with enjoying this beautiful, historic building. It’s just like how Craig and I only drink wine made by people we like and admire, we buy art done by artists who we enjoy. Russell Crotty is not only a great artist, but also a wonderful person.” –Kathryn Hall
A native Californian, Russell grew up in the Bay Area, began and nurtured his art career in Los Angeles and now resides in Ojai and Upper Lake, California with his wife Laura Gruenther, a graphic designer. His work is in the collections of the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.