Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 12:30 PM - 1:15 PM
Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs open at the Vilcek Foundation from May 13 to November 13, 2019.

This exhibition and accompanying catalogue examine the confluence of Ralston Crawford's Torn Signs and Semana Santa series, two seemingly disparate themes connected by Crawford’s extraordinary visual memory, working method, and inventiveness. Over the course of four decades, Crawford recorded, transformed, and often merged his experiences and memories in photographs, drawings, etchings, paintings, and film. In 1938, Crawford first photographed a ripped and pasted over sign on the street in Philadelphia.

Crawford returned to the theme frequently in the last thirty years of his life, capturing the layered and weathered advertisements plastered around New York City. During this time, he also traveled frequently to Seville, Spain and in 1972, documented the experience of Holy Week. Crawford drew inspiration from a constellation of memory and invention that flowed in multiple directions at once. For him, the rhythmic images of hooded penitents processing through the streets for Holy Week recalled formal elements of his Torn Signs imagery. The convergence of these two incredible series culminated in the powerful, large-scale painting Torn Signs, 1974-76 (Vilcek Foundation Collection).

Visitor Information

The Vilcek Foundation is located at 21 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021.

Guests are welcome for pre-scheduled visits on Mondays and Wednesdays at the following times: 11:30AM - 12:15PM, 12:30PM - 1:15PM, and 1:30PM - 2:15PM. Registration opens one month in advance.

For private or group tours, please email info@vilcek.org.

The Vilcek Foundation will be closed on the following dates: May 27, September 2, and October 14.

Visiting Policies

Please arrive 15 minutes early to check-in for your visit. If you arrive more than 15 minutes after your scheduled time slot, you will not be permitted to view the exhibition.

Guests must leave at the end of their time slot.

Luggage of any kind and bags larger than 11 x 15 x 5 inches are not permitted and cannot be checked at the foundation.

A coat closet is available for jackets, umbrellas, and small personal items. All bags are subject to a security screening. The foundation reserves the right to refuse to check items and is not responsible for checked items.

Water in plastic bottles may be brought into the foundation. Other food and drink is not allowed and cannot be checked in the coat closet.

Only pencils may be used in the gallery; the use of pens and markers is prohibited.

Please do not touch the artwork on display. Even clean hands can cause damage.

Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 

Strollers are not permitted in the exhibition.

The Vilcek Foundation reserves the right to remove guests acting in an inappropriate or unacceptable manner.


Non-commercial visitor photography is permitted.

Flash photography, additional lighting, and the use of tripods or extension poles/selfie sticks is prohibited.

Professional photography must be approved by the Vilcek Foundation in advance and supervised by foundation staff.

The Vilcek Foundation reserves the right to withhold or withdraw photography permissions at any time.

Special Access and Service Animals

The Vilcek Foundation is fully handicap accessible, including both floors of the exhibition and a restroom. However, we do not have wheelchairs available for use.

Registered service animals are permitted in the Vilcek Foundation. Pets or other animals are not allowed.


There are 18 tickets left for this event. No more than 4 tickets may be reserved.
*Required Field

  • Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs

    Our new exhibition, Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs, features paintings, drawings, and photography by a master of American Modernism that are rarely exhibited to the public.


    Free with advance registration!


    RSVP here >