Douglass Crockwell

Douglass Crockwell (April 29, 1904, Columbus, Ohio – November 30, 1968, Glens Falls, New York[1]), born Spencer Douglass Crockwell, was an American commercial artist and experimental filmmaker.[2][3][4] He was most famous for his illustrations and advertisements for The Saturday Evening Post and for murals and posters for the Works Progress Administration.[5]

Douglass Crockwell
Spencer Douglass Crockwell

April 29, 1904
DiedNovember 30, 1968
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
OccupationCommercial artist and experimental filmmaker
Spouse(s)Margaret Braman (1933–1968) his death; 3 children

Education and careerEdit

He received a B.Sc. from the Washington University (1926) in St. Louis and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (1927) and the St. Louis School of Fine Arts (1927–31).[6]

Crockwell's paintings have been featured in advertisements for Friskies dog food and in a poster for the American Relief for Holland. For the latter, he was awarded a gold medal from the Art Director's Club in 1946.


Crockwell created recruiting and other posters for various branches of the United States government during World War II, and many illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post.[7]

He also created poster art for the MGM film The Yearling (1946).[8]


Federally commissioned murals were produced from 1934 to 1944 in the United States through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, later called the Section of Fine Arts, of the Treasury Department.[9] Crockwell painted three. In 1937 he completed an oil on canvas mural, Vermont Industries, for the post office in White River Junction, Vermont. In 1938, he completed Endicott, 1901- Excavating for the Ideal Factory, also an oil on canvas, for the post office in Endicott, New York. Signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was painted in 1944 for the post office in Macon, Mississippi.


In 1934, Crockwell began experimenting with non-representational films while balancing his career as an illustrator. He initially wanted to create flexible, low-cost animation techniques. In 1936–1937, he collaborated with David Smith, a sculptor, to create surrealistic films.[10]



  • Glens Falls Sequence (1937–1946)
  • Fantasmagoria #1 (1938)
  • Fantasmagoria #2 (1939)
  • Simple Destiny Abstractions (1939–1940)
  • Fantasmagoria #3 (1940)
  • The Chase (1942)
  • The Long Bodies (1947)
  • Mutoscope reels: Red (1949), A Long Body (1950), Random Glow (c. 1950s), Stripes (c. 1950s), Ode to David (c. 1950s), Around the Valley (c. 1950s)


Examples of his work are in the collections of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the Bangor Public Library, the Hennepin County Library, the George C. Marshall Library, among others.

Over the course of his career, Crockwell drew over four hundred full-page images; more than three billion prints of his works have been made.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ WPAMurals entry
  2. ^ Douglass Crockwell, Alphabet of Illustrators, Chris Mullen Collection
  3. ^ Unseen Cinema presentation at University of Texas Ransom Center
  4. ^ FullTable entry
  5. ^ Smithsonian American Art Museum entry
  6. ^ Crockwell entry at AskArt
  7. ^ Grapefruit Moon Gallery entry
  8. ^ Crockwell entry at FullTable
  9. ^ Arnesen, Eric (2007). Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-Class History. 1. New York: Routledge. p. 1540. ISBN 9780415968263.
  10. ^ Posner, Bruce (2001). Unseen Cinema: American Avant-Garde Film 1893–1941. New York, New York: Black Thistle Press. p. 81. ISBN 0962818178.
  11. ^ Grapefruit Moon Gallery entry
  12. ^ Smithsonian American Art Museum entry


  • Crockwell, Spencer Douglass. Douglass Crockwell. 1977. OCLC 79834005
  • Kettlewell, James K. The Art of Douglass Crockwell. Glens Falls, N.Y.: Hyde Collection, 1977. OCLC 13470694
  • New York Times obituary (December 2, 1968)

External linksEdit