Artist William Crutchfield (1932–2015), born in Indianapolis, Indiana, received a traditional studio training at the city’s Herron School of Art and later at Tulane University in New Orleans. His conventional education in the arts may have suited his eye for metronomic movement but perhaps not his prankish sense of humor.
Crutchfield moved to Los Angeles in 1967, settling near the shipyards of San Pedro, amid views of the bustling Port of Los Angeles. This industrial setting provided the artist with plenty of inspiration and subject material for his mechanically derived artworks (the artist once professed that the 1928 transatlantic flight of the Graf Zeppelin was one of his prime spiritual sources). The move also gave him the opportunity to create a more public persona after many years of teaching; that same year, he created a lithographic suite for publisher Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles and began regularly exhibiting in galleries.
Crutchfield continued to play with the theme of humankind’s fraught relationship with transportation throughout most of his career. Trains, ships, and airplanes are all portrayed as overbuilt models of modernity. AIR LAND SEA, a suite of 13 lithographs printed at Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles in 1970, exemplifies the artist’s master draftsmanship, his keen understanding of engineering, his wry wit and, most of all, his fascination with sundry modes of conveyance.