WILLIAM CRAWFORD , Selected works from the 1990s

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  • William Crawford's drawings were discovered in an abandoned house in Oakland, California. His work brings to mind characteristics of prison drawings, an impression confirmed by the fact that several were made on the backs of prison roster sheets dated 1997. These printouts, however, were cut down the middle, so the exact prison from which they originate is unknown. But given their origin in the Bay Area and the fact that several drawings include San Francisco landmarks, it's possible that Crawford made the work in a California state prison. Other than this information drawn from the archive itself, nothing is known about Crawford's life. Indeed, we only know his name because he signed just a few of the drawings, either as Bill, William or WM Crawford.

    The archive appears to have consisted of several books, with individual drawings in sequences of 30 or more adding up to tell complex visual stories. Several include written captions or fragments of conversation between male and female characters. These sequences, however, have been broken up over the years and reach us now in a fragmentary and fascinating collection of hundreds of delicate pencil drawings. The work conveys the intense sense of sexual longing of a man with an urge to tell dynamic stories.

    The drawings, which resemble the eroticism of Eric Stanton, the exaggerated male anatomy of Tom of Finland or the ample breasts of a John Currin, show scantily dressed women, drug use, cuckolding and orgies. The details of his interiors, the hairdos and style of dress suggest that Crawford might have come of age in the late 70s or early 80s. A cast of recurring figures populate the drawings, notably one man with a short afro and a moustache who often figures at the center of events, presumably the artist William Crawford himself.

     

    > 32 pgs, 19 × 13 cm, Paperback, black and white offset printed, 2016,

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