NARRATOR: Ralston Crawford first went to New Orleans in 1949, intending to spend a weekend listening to jazz. He was immediately infatuated, and ended up spending much of the next three decades in the city. He had grown out of step with the New York art world: his geometric abstraction was too cerebral for the Abstract Expressionists and their champions. His personal style was quite elegant, and he didn’t fit in with Village bohemians. In the French Quarter of New Orleans he found a slow pace, civilized manner, and neighborhood quality that appealed to him enormously. He photographed the city voraciously—ultimately producing more than 10,000 photographs of New Orleans. He pictured buildings, jazz musicians, singers, nightclubs, and street parades. These photographs are the most human part of Crawford’s career. They’re openly emotional—especially compared to his earlier paintings of architecture, in which psychological content is latent or implied.
After his death in 1978, Crawford was buried in New Orleans, and honored with a jazz funeral.