Walton Ford (born 1960 in Larchmont, New York) is an American artist who makes paintings and prints in the style of naturalist illustrations, often depicting extinct species. Each of his paintings is a meticulous, realistic study in flora and fauna, and is filled with symbols, clues, and jokes referencing texts ranging from colonial literature, to folktales, to travel guides. The paintings are complex allegorical narratives that critique the history of colonialism, industrialism, politics, natural science, and humanity’s effect on the environment.
Ford recalled taking trips into the deep forest in Canada with his father as a child, exposing him to unspoiled wilderness. As a teenager, Ford became immersed in the underground cartoons of the 1960s, including ZAP and anything by Robert Crumb, who he considers “a major influence.”
He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, and in 1982 was granted a BFA degree in Filmmaking.
He had his first major one-man show at the Brooklyn Museum in 2006 and is currently represented by the Paul Kasmin Gallery in Manhattan. In 2010, the retrospective “Walton Ford: Bestiarium” traveled from the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum Fur Gegenwart in Berlin to the Albertina in Vienna, finishing at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in 2011.
His work is included in the permanent collections of the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2012, Ford designed the cover art for the Rolling Stones greatest hits album, GRRR!, which commemorated the band’s 50th Anniversary.
Ford is the recipient of several national awards and honors including a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and is one of the artists profiled on the PBS series Art:21. Ford lives and works in New York City.