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About Walter Anderson

A major American artist and naturalist

Walter Anderson - self portrait

Walter Anderson spent most of his life exploring the wonders of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, absorbed in the haunting ambiance of the water, marshes, and woods. His "oneness with nature" and his expression of that unity have made Anderson a legendary figure on the Gulf Coast.

Walter Anderson was born in 1903 in New Orleans and died in 1965. He studied at the Parson's School of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he won several awards, including the prestigious Cresson Award for travel in Europe. He traveled extensively in Europe and Asia before adopting a reclusive existence, spending much of his time on his beloved Horn Island.

Anderson's output was staggering. He worked in oil, watercolor, pen and ink, and pencil. He sculpted in wood, crafted furniture, carved and decorated pottery, and cut large linoleum blocks for print making. He also produced stained glass and hooked rugs. For Anderson, art was not a product but a process, a means of experiencing the world. His drawing, prints, and watercolors celebrated the natural rhythms of the weather, the seasons, the sea, and the cycles of plants, flowers, and animals. His abiding interest in nature combined with his strong sense of design and color, his avid intellectual curiosity, and his bold imagination have made his works distinctive and timeless.

Cows on a Hill - watercolor

Anderson created nearly 300 linoleum blocks in the years from 1945 through 1949. He printed these on the back of ordinary wallpaper and offered them for sale at one dollar per foot, intending to make available good decorative art that anyone could afford. The original blocks are now safeguarded by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, a gift from the family of Walter Anderson.

Recognition was meager during Walter Anderson's lifetime. But, since his death in 1965, his art has been the subject of numerous books, films, and articles. Major retrospective exhibits at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, the Brooks Museum in Memphis, and the New Orleans Museum of Art have received tremendous critical acclaim. In 1991, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art was established to archive and exhibit Anderson's monumental achievements. It also serves as a center from which Anderson's genius emanates to an ever-broadening circle of artists, art-lovers, scholars, scientists, naturalists, and environmentalists.

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