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Russell Crotty: Around the Vast Blue [Lake Tahoe]


Summary Note

Russell Crotty was commissioned by Nevada Museum of Art to produce one of his signature “sphere” artworks about Lake Tahoe. Materials in this archive include preliminary sketches and watercolor studies, working digital image printouts, project maquettes, exhibition ephemera, and press and publication materials.

Biographical Note

Russell Crotty was born in San Rafael, California, in 1956. He received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1978 and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine in 1980. He was a visiting assistant professor at UCLA (1998-99) and visiting artists at the California Institute of the Arts (2001, 2005), and been awarded visual arts fellowships from the NEA (1991), the Peter Reed Foundation (1999), among others. He has completed commissions for NASA, the Miami Art Museum, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and has works in the permanent collections of MOMA, the Centre George Pompidou, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His early work consisted of large grids of abstracted surfing images, broadened to encompass images from his home-built telescope, and currently includes paintings of scenes done on large spheres.

Scope and Content

Russell Crotty was commissioned by Nevada Museum of Art Senior Curator Ann Wolfe to produce one of his signature “sphere” artworks about Lake Tahoe. Crotty stayed at Glenbrook and sailed out onto Lake Tahoe in order to make preparatory drawings akin to traditional coastal profiles used in exploration art. He then made test spheres to test the horizon line of the Tahoe Basin and major features. Much of the final topography was made by and lettering quotes in pencil on the painted sphere from Mark Twain’s account of being at Tahoe in Roughing It.

Materials in this archive include Tahoe Project preliminary sketches and watercolor studies, working digital image printouts, and project maquettes. Also included is exhibition ephemera and press and publication materials.


Russell Crotty: Around the Vast Blue [Lake Tahoe] is organized into eight folders. Folder1 is related to past projects, folders 2-4 are related to the process of the Tahoe project, and folders 5-8 are related to past exhibitions and press.

Inclusive Dates

1985 - 2013

Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

1 cubic feet


English, German, French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese

Related Publications

Belloli, Jay, Ed., Denis Cosgrove, Michelle Deziel, et al. The Universe: A Convergence of Art, Music, and Science. Pasadena, CA, London, UK: Armory Center for the Arts, distributed by Reaktion Books, 2001.

Comba, Steve, Rebecca McGrew, Amy Gerstler, et al. Blue Sky: Visionaries, Romantics, Dreamers. Claremont, CA: Trustees of Pomona College, 2004.

Doyle, Mary, Kate Macfarlane, Katharine Stout, et al. Drawing on Space. London, England: The Drawing Room, 2002.

Duncan, Michael. Russell Crotty. Paris, France: Galerie Suzanne Tarasiève, 2005.

Espace Louis Vuitton. La Tentation de L'espace (The Temptation of Space). Paris, France: Espace Louis Vuitton, 2007.

Frankel, David. Russell Crotty. Seattle, WA: New York, NY: Marquand Books, 2006.

Friedli, Susanne, Barbara LuginBühl-Sieber, Madeleine Schuppi, et al. Panorama: Kunstmuseum Thun. Thun, Helvitia, Kunstmuseum Thun, 2001.

Herbert, Lynne. Perspectives 138: Russell Crotty. Houston, TX: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2003.

Murphy, Patrick T., Richard Torchia, Susan Stewart, et al. The Sea & the Sky. Glenside, PA; Dublin, Ireland: Beaver College Art Gallery; Royal Hibernian Academy, 2000.

Phoenix Art Museum. Bigger than Us. Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Art Museum, 2003.

Pomery, Victoria, Siân Ede, and James Hamilton. Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens. Margate, Kent, England: Turner Contemporary, 2011.

Vegh, Christina, Frances Stark, Hans Witschi, et al. Kunsthalle Basel: Persönliche Pläne. Basel, Helvetia: Kunsthalle Basel, Schwabe & Co., 2001.

Weber, John S., Ed. Look Back in Time: Russell Crotty and Lick Observatory. Santa Cruz CA; San Jose CA: University of California, Santa Cruz; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, 2017.

Wicks, Stephen C., Holly Koons McCullough. New Directions in American Drawing. Columbus GA: Columbus Museum, 2007.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 29

    • Folder 3 Lake Tahoe Digital Study Images, 2013
    • Folder 4 Lake Tahoe Preliminary Sketches, Watercolor Studies, and Models, 2013
    • Folder 5 Exhibition Ephemera, 1993 – 2009
    • Folder 6 Press and Publication Materials, 1985 – 2001
    • Folder 7 Press and Publication Materials, 2002 – 2007
    • Folder 8 Press and Publication Materials, 2008 – 2013
    • Folder 1 Artist Information and Other projects, 2011
    • Folder 2 Work in Progress Document, 2013

Additional Materials

    CAE Box 67 Objects

    • 4#30 Model #1, 2013
    • 4#31 Model #2, 2013

    CAE Box 71 Objects

    • 4#32 Model #3, 2013