An abstracted depiction of the destruction of the atomic bomb tests in Bikini Atoll in 1946. Ralston Crawford captured the sense of the blasts and their aftermath in a chaotic collision of jagged, overlapping forms and twisted lines, rather than realistically recording the events. The brilliant palette evokes the deep blue water, blinding yellow light of the blasts, and the target ships, including the U.S.S. Nevada, painted bright orange for visibility.
Fortune magazine sent Crawford on assignment to witness and document Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll on July 1, 1946. In addition to the work reproduced in the December 1946 issue of Fortune , Crawford created drawings, paintings, and a screenprint. Bikini – Test Able 1946, 1946, in the Whitney Museum of American Art and Test Able, 1946, in the Georgia Museum of Art.
[Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York (Milwaukee 1958)];
Mr. and Mrs. Myron Minskoff, New York City (Omaha 1968);
Estate of the Artist;
By descent to the Artist’s son, Neelon Crawford, Wyoming;
[Menconi & Schoelkopf, New York, NY];
New York. Downtown Gallery. Ralston Crawford: Paintings of Operation Crossroads at Bikini, December 3-21, 1946, cat. no, 6.
Baton Rouge. Louisiana State University Art Gallery. Ralston Crawford, February 24-March 17, 1950, cat. no. 9.
Milwaukee. Milwaukee Art Center. Ralston Crawford, February 6-March 9, 1958, p. 23, cat. no. 17.
Duluth. Tweed Gallery, University of Minnesota. Ralston Crawford: Retrospective Exhibition. May 1961, cat. no. 11.
New York. Nordness Gallery. Ralston Crawford: Oils and Lithographs, March 12-30, 1963, cat no. 3.
Champaign, Illinois. Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois. Ralston Crawford. February 6-27, 1966.
Omaha. Creighton University Fine Arts Gallery. Ralston Crawford: Retrospective Exhibition, October 23-December 9, 1968, cat. no. 8.
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. Ralston Crawford, October 3, 1985-February 2, 1986, pp. 67-70, 158, ill. p. 69, cat. no. 67.
New York. Hirschl & Adler Galleries. Ralston Crawford: Images of War. March 19-April 24, 1993, pp. 7, 33, ill. p. 22, cat. no. 11.
Laramie, Wyoming. University of Wyoming Art Museum. Ralston Crawford: The Artist’s Eye, August 23-December 20, 2014, pp.18-19, 181, ill. p. 93.
Barcelona. Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. Be-Bomb: The Transatlantic War of Images and All That Jazz, 1946-1956. October 4, 2007-January 7, 2008, ill. p. 320.
Princeton. Princeton University Art Museum. Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment (October 13, 2018-January 6, 2019); Salem. Peabody Essex Museum (February 2-May 5, 2019); Betonville. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (May 25-September 9, 2019).
Chadds Ford, PA. Brandywine River Museum of Art. Ralston Crawford: Air + Space + War (June 19-September 19, 2021); Dayton, OH. Dayton Art Institute (October 30, 2021-January 23, 2022).
Ralston Crawford to Edith Halpert, October 28, 1946. Downtown Gallery Records, Artist Files, A-Z: Crawford, Ralston, undated, 1943-1955. Box 23, Reel 5546, Frame 416. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Reinhardt, Ad. “How to Look at 3 Current Shows,” P.M., December 14, 1946, ill.
Wolf, Ben. “Crawford Interprets the Bikini Blast,” Art Digest, December 1, 1946, p. 10, ill. p. 10.
Swan, Bradford F. “Abstract Art,” Providence (R.I.) Journal, April 13, 1947, ill.
Seeley, Carol. “On the Nature of Abstract Painting in America, Magazine of Art, May 1950, p. 166, ill. p. 166.
Freeman, Richard B. Ralston Crawford. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1953, p. 45, no. 46.7.
Arts Magazine, December 1983, ill. p. 49.
Agee, William C. Ralston Crawford. Pasadena, CA: Twelve Tree Press, 1983, ill. pl. 26.
Glueck, Grace. “Gallery View; Two Who Went Beyond Cubism,” New York Times, December 4, 1983.
Stretch, Bonnie Barrett. “Reticent Romantic,” ARTnews, April 1986, ill. p. 118.
Newhall, Edith. “Art Exhibitions,” New York Magazine, March 22, 1993, p. 102; March 29, 1993, p. 114; April 5, 1993, p. 100; April 12, 1993, p. 82; April 19, 1993, p. 236; April 26, 1993, p. 106.
Hirschl & Adler advertisement, Art in America, April 1993, ill. p. 30.
McCauley, Mary Carole. “Art of War,” Baltimore Sun, April 14, 2003.
Rompilla, Denise M. “From Hiroshima to the Hydrogen Bomb: American Artists Witness the Birth of the Atomic Age,” Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 2008, ill, p. 434, fig. 121.
Gorski, Susanna Brooks. “The Artists, the Atom, and the Bikini Atoll: Ralston Crawford Paints Operation Crossroads,” MA Thesis, The University of Texas, Austin, 2010, pp. viii, 44, ill. p. 75, fig. 25.
Lahs-Gonzales, Olivia. Ralston Crawford and Jazz. St. Louis: The Sheldon Art Galleries in Association with Virginia Publishing, 2011, pp. 7-8, ill. p. 7, fig. 3.
Orgeman, Keely. “Visualizing the Irradiated Body and Radioactive Landscape in American Art, 1945-76,” Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 2014, pp. xiv, 133-134, 155, ill. p. 155, fig. 2.16.
Esplund, Lance. “Art Review: Ralston Crawford: Art and Aviation,” The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2021, ill.