Walter Inglis Anderson,born 1903 New Orleans.Attended various art schools in The U.S.,traveled throughout Europe and was particularly taken with the cave art he saw at Les Eyzies in France. He returned to the U.S. and worked for Shearwater Pottery in Ocean Springs,Miss. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was hospitalized numerous times. Each time he devised a plan and escaped.He was commissioned by the WPA and worked as a muralist for a time. Anderson then embarked on a private and very solitary existence. He began trips by skiff to Horn Island,one of a group of barrier islands along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He would row the 12 miles with minimal necessities and his art supplies. He spent long periods of time on the uninhabited island during the last 18 years of his life. There he lived primitively,working in the open and sleeping under his boat,sometimes for weeks at a time. He endured extreme weather conditions from blistering summer to hurricane winds and would tie himself to a tree on the island during several hurricanes. He painted and drew a multitude of species of island vegetation, animal and insect,penetrating the wild thickets on hands and knees and lying in lagoons in his search to render in explicit detail his island paradise. He died in New Orleans in 1965. Much of his art work was destroyed because he had no regard for his work. The work that does remain is housed in a museum bearing his name in Ocean Springs,Miss. Also, a cottage where he lived with every conceivable surface painted with murals.
Whoa ~~ one of my favorites, so a real treat to see this here. I'd forgotten he was also a ceramicist. That horse is a delight!
I used to live next door to his daughter. She said she was mostly scared of him as a child, because she saw him seldom and he seemed big and looming. Since she was about my age, he would have seemed quite an old man to her.
He was very influenced by what he saw in the caves in Les Eyzies.
He was married and had I believe 2 daughters. One wrote at least one biography of him and her life growing up,Approaching the Magic Hour. He apparently had an arrangement with his family as they knew he was ill and did not or rather couldn't "contain" him. A psychiatrist I know that we did consultation work with here in NOLA had walls covered in his art work that he acquired in exchange for payment for treatment. I would sit and stare at the work the whole time we were there(one hour every week).
It would be interesting to see examples of his art from each decade or half-decade in which he was creating. A couple of the pictures above, such as in Reply #6, seem to announce "30s", for instance, but others are so purely Walter Anderson that they transcend the trends of a particular era.
I believe his work from Horn Island is pretty distinguishable. One of his watercolors(the one of the blue crabs in first pic) was up for auction in in 2005 or 6. It was a whole estate being auctioned off,part of the post K run for the hills. We went more as a curiousity then anything else.That watercolor has always been one of Mr. C.'s favorites. It was so painful for him to watch go (not to him).Don't remember what it fetched.