William Crawford. I like to be awaken ...

3 Jul 2015 – 22 Aug 2015

Regular opening hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 16:00

Delmes & Zander Berlin

Berlin, Germany


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Little is known about the artist William Crawford. His erotic drawings were found in an empty house in Oakland, California.


Crawford drew on the reverse side of the duty rosters of a California prison, often on colored and sometimes damaged paper the size of which varied – it is evident that he utilized whatever was available as a surface on which to receive his images. Some of the approximately 950 works are signed and dated; they originate in the 1990s. The aesthetic of the depictions of sexual fantasies corresponds to the ethos of gangster and pornographic films of the 1970s and 1980s and therefore one may assume that William Crawford was imprisoned for many years.

The erotic drawings convince through a masterly compositional arrangement, unusual perspectives and the play with both elaborate and only partially suggested picture fields. A comparison with the playful erotic style of an Eric Stanton or Tom of Finland can be made. A stylized background skyline is typical in the minimal interiors, which are reminiscent of simple television studio sets. Beside erotic encounters between men and women, Crawford drew gangster scenes, shared drug consumption and group sex scenarios. A recurrent figure in the fantasies is a man with a short Afro and a moustache – presumably the artist. 

On some of the sheets written dialogs can be found. Crawford always drew storyboards in the style of comics whose connections in the oeuvre can be reconstructed on up to 30 successive sheets. His stories are erotic, humorous, mysterious, and pornographic. They show fascinating scenes of lust, debauchery, and sexual gratification. In a unique drawing style they reveal the fantasies of a man, who was presumably for years cut off from the exterior world and therefore from the possibility of their realization. 

The exhibition is the first presentation of William Crawford’s works in Berlin. Especially in the last months his work received a lot of attention, among other things through the exhibition “System & Vision” at David Zwirner Gallery in New York.

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