Thursday, 24 December 2009

A Crockwell Christmas

Render yourself flat, lose an extraneous dimension, enter the world of minimal density and prepare yourself for a Crockwell Christmas where the picture plane is triumphantly flat. The smiles are cryogenic and the gestures come deep-frozen. The decorations and the mistletoe go up as spirits go down. Disaster is only inches away. Joy is obliterated by tragedy. At its own expense, the American insurance industry warns us all of the awful dangers that haunt the festive season. If the young girl trips over the rug, if Father drops the hammer on her brother’s skull while Mother is convulsed by an electric shock, they can all take comfort from the protection that insurance provides.

It is said that Douglass Crockwell enlisted friends and neighbours to model for his illustration assignments. It would be pleasing if the muscular sculptor, David Smith, a neighbour and occasional cinematic collaborator, could be identified in one of Crockwell’s images. Just to see him out of his customary proletarian clothing and dressed for suburban respectability would be an intriguing prospect. Finally, an undiluted pleasure. The divine Joan Crawford comes a-knocking at the door bearing Tobaccoland’s Finest Gift. Cough your way through Christmas.

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