Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Walter Inglis Anderson

Walter Inglis Anderson

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Walter Inglis Anderson'
Start a new discussion about 'Walter Inglis Anderson'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Walter Inglis Anderson (September 29, 1903 – November 30, 1965) was an American painter, writer, and naturalist.
Known to his family as "Bob", he was born in New Orleans to George Walter Anderson, a grain broker, and Annette McConnell Anderson, member of a prominent New Orleans family, who had studied art at Newcomb College, where she had absorbed the ideals of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

Anderson was the second of three brothers, the eldest being Peter Anderson
Peter Anderson (artist)
Peter Anderson was an American ceramist and founder of Shearwater Pottery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He was born in New Orleans to George Walter Anderson, a grain broker, and Annette McConnell Anderson, member of a prominent New Orleans family, who had studied art at Newcomb College, where she...

 (1901–1984) and the youngest was James McConnell "Mac" Anderson
James McConnell Anderson
James McConnell "Mac" Anderson was an American painter, muralist, and pottery designer and decorator, youngest of the three brothers who collaborated at Shearwater Pottery, Ocean Springs, Mississippi .Born in New Orleans, Anderson attended schools there...

 (1907–1998). The two older brothers attended St. John's School in Manlius, New York
Manlius (town), New York
Manlius is a town in Onondaga County, east of the city of Syracuse, New York, United States. The population was 32,370 at the 2010 census, making it the third largest suburb in metropolitan Syracuse...

 until their schooling was interrupted by World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and they enrolled in the prestigious Isidore Newman School
Isidore Newman School
Isidore Newman School is a private, nondenominational, co-educational college preparatory school located on an campus in the Uptown section of New Orleans, Louisiana.-History:...

 (then called Isidore Newman Manual Training School) in New Orleans.

In 1918, the Andersons purchased a large wooded tract of coastal land in Ocean Springs
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Ocean Springs is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States, about east of Biloxi. It is part of the Pascagoula, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 17,225 at the 2000 census...

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

. It was Annette's firm intention that all three of her sons become artists, and her husband's, that they learn to make a living from it. By 1924, a year after the family moved to Ocean Springs, Peter was experimenting with pottery, and in 1928, after training with Edmund deForest Curtis at the Conestoga Pottery (Wayne, Pennsylvania
Wayne, Pennsylvania
Wayne is an unincorporated community located on the Main Line, centered in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. While the center of Wayne is in Radnor Township, Wayne extends into both Tredyffrin Township in Chester County and Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County...

) and with Charles F. Binns at the School of Clay-Working and Ceramics at Alfred, New York
Alfred (village), New York
Alfred is a village located in the Town of Alfred in Allegany County, New York, USA. The population was 3,954 at the 2000 census. The village is named after Alfred the Great....

, the Andersons opened a family business, Shearwater Pottery
Shearwater Pottery
Shearwater Pottery is a small family-owned pottery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, United States founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson , with the support of his parents, George Walter Anderson and Annette McConnell Anderson. From the 1920s through the present day, the Pottery has produced art pottery, ...

, which is still in operation in Ocean Springs.

Pennsylvania Academy


In 1922, Anderson enrolled at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now Parsons School of Design), and after a year there, devoted to the study of commercial art and to exploration of New York's museums and galleries, won a scholarship to study at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is a museum and art school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1805 and is the oldest art museum and school in the United States. The academy's museum is internationally known for its collections of 19th and 20th century American paintings,...

. Here (1924–1928) he would study under iconoclastic modernists like Henry McCarter and Arthur Carles, winning a Packard Award for his animal drawing and a Cresson Scholarship which allowed him to spend a summer in France, where (he said) he was more impressed by the art of the caves
Cave painting
Cave paintings are paintings on cave walls and ceilings, and the term is used especially for those dating to prehistoric times. The earliest European cave paintings date to the Aurignacian, some 32,000 years ago. The purpose of the paleolithic cave paintings is not known...

 and of the cathedrals than by the art he had seen in museums. In the late 20s, he became interested in the teachings of Gurdjieff
G. I. Gurdjieff
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff according to Gurdjieff's principles and instructions, or the "Fourth Way."At one point he described his teaching as "esoteric Christianity."...

 and Alfred Richard Orage
Alfred Richard Orage
Alfred Richard Orage was a British intellectual, now best known for editing the magazine The New Age. While working as a schoolteacher in Leeds, he pursued various interests, including Plato, the Independent Labour Party, and theosophy...

, whom he met in NYC while studying at the Academy. During his summer in France, he is thought to have visited Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.

Ocean Springs


Returning to Ocean Springs after his years at the Academy, Anderson worked as a designer in the family business, Shearwater Pottery
Shearwater Pottery
Shearwater Pottery is a small family-owned pottery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, United States founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson , with the support of his parents, George Walter Anderson and Annette McConnell Anderson. From the 1920s through the present day, the Pottery has produced art pottery, ...

, founded by his older brother Peter. In 1928-29 he designed his earliest ceramic pieces: pelican and crab bookends, lampstands, peculiar “Resting” and “Sitting Geometric Cats," a "Horse and Rider" and innumerable plates and vases. His work as a designer and decorator at Shearwater Pottery, from 1928 until his death included incised pieces, sgraffito work, underglaze decoration, woodcarvings of saints, and designs for furniture.

Among his early projects, launched with his younger brother, James ("Mac"), was a "Shearwater Pottery Annex" which produced inexpensive figurines, giving Anderson enough of an income to marry Agnes Grinstead in 1933, an art history graduate of Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges. Radcliffe College conferred joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas beginning in 1963 and a formal merger agreement with...

, who would later write a poignant memoir of their life together (Approaching the Magic Hour). During the early years, manufacturing of the figurines, which he called "widgets," prevented Anderson from painting and led to considerable tension.

In 1934, commissioned by a family friend, Ellsworth Woodward
Ellsworth Woodward
Ellsworth Woodward . During the late 19th Century in New Orleans, Ellsworth and his older brother William Woodward were two of the most influential figures in Southern art...

, Anderson painted an ambitious mural in the auditorium of the Ocean Springs Public School (“Ocean Springs Past and Present”) as part of Public Works of Art Project
Public Works of Art Project
The Public Works of Art Project was a program to employ artists, as part of the New Deal, during the Great Depression. It was the first such program, running from December 1933 to June 1934...

. Paintings from this period include: "Indians Hunting," "Jockeys Riding Horses," four oil portraits of Sissy, 1933–37, "Black Skimmer," "Androcles and Lion," "Man on Horse," and Birth of Achilles (Memphis Brooks Museum of Art), along with watercolors of flowers, animals, and birds; studies for a projected book on birds of the southeastern U.S.; and linoleum blockprints, including “Tourist Cards”, “Alphabet,” nursery rhymes, “On the River,” “Valkyries,” “Butterfly Book,” and scenes from Shearwater Pottery. Designs for a second mural, in the Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

 Court House, were accepted by an illustrious committee then rejected by a Washington bureaucrat, causing Anderson considerable frustration. This disappointment, coupled with the death of his father in 1937, lingering bouts of both malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and undulant fever
Brucellosis
Brucellosis, also called Bang's disease, Crimean fever, Gibraltar fever, Malta fever, Maltese fever, Mediterranean fever, rock fever, or undulant fever, is a highly contagious zoonosis caused by ingestion of unsterilized milk or meat from infected animals or close contact with their secretions...

, and the struggle to eke out a living with work he detested (manufacturing figurines) led to a mental breakdown, with psychotic episodes
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

, in 1937.

From 1938 to 1940 Walter Anderson was in and out of mental hospitals, including the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital
Johns Hopkins Hospital
The Johns Hopkins Hospital is the teaching hospital and biomedical research facility of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, located in Baltimore, Maryland . It was founded using money from a bequest by philanthropist Johns Hopkins...

, Sheppard Pratt
The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital
The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, known to many simply as Sheppard Pratt, is a psychiatric hospital located in Towson, a northern suburb of Baltimore, Maryland...

, and the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. At Phipps, where he spent 18 months, treated attentively by Adolf Meyer
Adolf Meyer (psychiatrist)
Adolf Meyer, M.D., LL.D., , was a Swiss psychiatrist who rose to prominence as the president of the American Psychiatric Association and was one of the most influential figures in psychiatry in the first half of the twentieth century...

 and a team of psychiatrists, he was diagnosed with severe depression
Psychotic depression
Psychotic major depression is a type of depression that can include symptoms and treatments that are different from those of non-psychotic major depressive disorder . PMD is estimated to affect about 0.4% of the population .PMD is sometimes "mistaken" for NPMD, schizoaffective disorder,...

 ("hypothymergasia") with paranoid trends and schizophrenic
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

 ("parergasic") features. At Sheppard Pratt, the diagnosis was schizophrenia. Despite periods of psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

 and brief hospitalization in the 1950s, he led a life more productive than most, and a definitive diagnosis eluded physicians, although psychiatrist Paul Rodenhauser, who writes about Walter Anderson's creativity in relation to his mental illness, ventures a possible posthumous diagnosis: "schizo-affective disorder, bipolar
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

 type" (see "Alternative Reality and Art: The Creative World of Walter Inglis Anderson," available through Project Muse.) For others, recurring symptoms of malaria and undulant fever explain Anderson's depression and the apparent "fugue states" that occasionally accompanied it during this two year period. Although life-long mental illness has been suggested by some authors, others argue that there is no convincing evidence of mental problems either before or after the 1938-1940 period, and attribute psychotic episodes in the 1950s—for which he was, again, hospitalized—to the effects of alcoholism. Anderson was extremely productive and creative throughout his life. Even at Sheppard Pratt and later at Whitfield, he was well enough to draw, read, and plot elaborate escapes. After eloping from Sheppard Pratt, he walked 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from Baltimore to Ocean Springs. During one of several escapes from the Mississippi State Hospital, he lowered himself on bedsheets from a second-story window, leaving the brick walls festooned with drawings of birds in flight, done in soap.

Oldfields


In 1941, Anderson moved to Gautier, Mississippi
Gautier, Mississippi
Gautier is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States, along the Gulf of Mexico west of Pascagoula. It is part of the Pascagoula, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 11,681 at the 2000 census. In 2002, Gautier annexed land nearly doubling its population to...

, to live on his wife's father's estate (Oldfields) with his family. An extraordinarily productive period followed. Freed from his work at the Pottery, he had time to draw, paint and make block prints; to illustrate some of his favorite books; to experiment with theories of dynamic symmetry and with the drawing methods of the Mexican artist and educator Adolfo Best Maugard
Adolfo Best Maugard
Adolfo Best Maugard also known as Fito Best was a Mexican painter, film director and screenwriter.- Life :...

; and to translate from Spanish part of Jose Pijoan's history of art (probably without realizing that the work had already been translated into English). He also built his own kiln and fired a new series of figurines, kept the house stocked with firewood, built a rental cottage, wrote short stories and aphorisms, went on marvelous adventures with his children, and celebrated the passing of the seasons and daily hours in a series of watercolors and lyrical "calendar drawings" that capture the life around him. He put on puppet shows, depicted farm life in a series of large watercolors, and, using surplus linoleum and wallpaper, made huge linoleum blocks depicting the natural world and that of fairy tales. Some of these were 30' in length, the largest art prints ever produced by an American, predating those of Leonard Baskin and others, and when they were exhibited in 1949 at the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum's curator of prints, Una E. Johnson, said that she had “never seen block prints so finely executed and of such great dimension.” The fairy-tale linocut
Linocut
Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised areas representing a reversal of the parts to show printed...

s were an attempt, Anderson said, to produce a series of imaginative “explosions” more powerful than the threat of the atomic bomb: explosions “so identified with the life of man that they stimulate, without destroying, life.”

Horn Island


The Oldfields period came to an end in 1945, when he left his family and moved back to a cottage at Shearwater. From then until his death in 1965 he lived a reclusive life, working as a decorator at the Pottery and making frequent excursions, in a rowboat sometimes rigged with a sail, from Ocean Springs to Horn Island, Mississippi where he lived in primitive conditions and portrayed the life around him - birds, sea creatures, animals, trees, landscapes - in radiant watercolors and in a series of logbooks. He also ventured abroad to Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and made numerous bicycle trips, on some of which he traveled for thousands of miles. "The wheels are turning again", he once wrote. "A bicycle seems to leave no room for other evils, or goods for that matter. It is an inclusive and exclusive wheel.”

One of his greatest works from this period is a series of murals in the Ocean Springs Community House. Along one wall, he painted the landing in Ocean Springs of the 17th-century French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville pronounced as described in note] Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville pronounced as described in note] Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville pronounced as described in note] (16 July 1661 – 9 July 1702 (probable)was a soldier, ship captain, explorer, colonial administrator, knight of...

. Along the opposite wall he painted what he called the “Seven Climates,” in the sense of “a belt of the earth’s surface contained between two given parallels of latitude.” The Gulf Coast—Ocean Springs in particular - is seen as a microcosm of these climates, each of which Anderson associates with a corresponding celestial body and with a season of the year: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon, beginning with Mercury and ending with Uranus. Anderson must also have been aware of the doctrine that the seven planetary spheres, with their different tones, produce a celestial music. Another, smaller mural, painted around the same time but discovered only after his death on the wooden walls of a padlocked room in his cottage at Shearwater, is inspired by Psalm 104
Psalm 104
Psalm 104 is a poem from the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible, describing the ongoing act of God continuously bringing the world into existence. German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder remarked, "It is worth studying the Hebrew language for ten years in order to read Psalm 104 in the original"...

. It is a radiant hymn to light and to the beauty of one day on the Coast, beginning on the east wall with sunrise and continuing around the room through noon, sunset and night. Both murals may be seen at the 'Walter Anderson Museum of Art
Walter Anderson Museum of Art
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art opened in 1991 in historic Ocean Springs, Mississippi. WAMA is dedicated to the celebration of the works of Walter Inglis Anderson , American master, whose depictions of the plants, animals, and people of the Gulf Coast have placed him among the forefront of...

.

Omitted from mainstream histories of American painting, Anderson’s work has not received sufficient critical attention, perhaps because he chose to live in a small Southern town, patiently acquiring what he called “definite knowledge” of local forms. Fiercely independent in spirit, indifferent to his own “career,” Anderson did nothing to cultivate fame or critical attention and sometimes seemed to flee them. When the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is an encyclopedia art museum located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. At 560,000 square feet, the museum holds New York City's second largest art collection with roughly 1.5 million works....

 invited him to an exhibition of his linoleum block prints in 1948, he chose instead to travel to China, where he hoped to gaze upon unknown landscapes and examine Tibetan murals (the China trip ended, deep inland, when his passport and other belongings were stolen and Anderson returned, partly on foot, to his point of departure in Hong Kong.) Anderson’s painting– a search for the spiritual and transcendent in the forms of the natural world – thrived on his love of limits, and the overwhelming majority of his best watercolors, undated and unsigned, were done on 8.5 x 11 typing paper with little thought for posterity. Rarely did he sign and date them. For him, painting was simply a way of turning art and nature into “a single thing,” helping the natural world “realize” itself through the artist’s intervention “Order is here,” he wrote of Horn Island, “but it needs realizing,” and to him “realization” -- a term which he seems to have borrowed from Cézanne, one of his favorite painters, and adapted to his own use—meant discovering and giving memorable form to unities missed by the casual observer.

For Anderson, “realization” was more than a psychological process in the creator; it was a phase of nature itself, by means of which the natural world –and mankind– achieve a perfection they could not reach on their own. Nature, he wrote, was “only too glad to have assistance in establishing order.” In many respects, Anderson's solitary trips to the Horn Island wilderness or his still lifes rendering loving homage to "the beauty of fruit, flowers, vegetables" may best be apprehended as a mystical search for unity and transcendence, akin, say, to the "dark night of the soul" of John of the Cross or the Taoist tradition. The artist’s personality, his god-like powers of invention and imitation disappear before (as Otto Fischer once wrote) “the Taoist-inspired endeavor to interpret art as the revelation of Being through a human medium [...] to render visible the Life Force of Nature.” Not merely the "Little Room" mural, but Anderson's entire work is a psalm of thanksgiving. It is the duty of an artist, he wrote, to render thanks for "the voluptuous return" of nature, the "gift of an austere mother to her children". Anderson's attitude contrasts sharply with prevailing late-20th and early 21st-century notions of the natural world as man's "environment," a purely material world to be manipulated or managed through technology and subjected to human control.

Anderson as a Writer


Among Anderson’s most vivid writings are logbooks recording his travels by bicycle to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 (1942), New Orleans (1943), Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 (1945), China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 (1949), Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 (1951) and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 (1960); an account of his life among the pelican colonies of North Key, in the Chandeleurs; and about 90 journals of his trips to Horn Island, off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, in which he combines close observation of the natural world with reflection on art and nature. Another noteworthy log describes a walking tour to a colony of sand hill cranes north of Gautier, Mississippi in January 1944. Less than one fourth of Anderson’s logbooks, and only a small part of his other writings, have been published. Between 1941 and 1947, as Anderson dreamed of finding “a common language of forms” for art and of reestablishing “the relation of art to the people”, he found different ways to relate the written word to the graphic image. He produced over 9,000 pen and ink “realizations” or “visualizations” of classical works including Alice in Wonderland, the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

, Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

, Paradise Regained
Paradise Regained
Paradise Regained is a poem by the English poet John Milton, published in 1671. It is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poem Paradise Lost, with which it shares similar theological themes...

, Samson Agonistes
Samson Agonistes
Samson Agonistes is a tragic closet drama by John Milton. It appeared with the publication of Milton's Paradise Regain'd in 1671, as the title page of that volume states: "Paradise Regained / A Poem / In IV Books / To Which Is Added / Samson Agonistes"...

, The Poems of Ossian, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and was published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a later revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss...

, Faust
Faust
Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical...

, The Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect...

, and Bulfinch’s Legends of Charlemagne.

He also wrote short stories for children, some with his own linoleum block or crayon illustrations (e.g., Robinson: The Pleasant History of an Unusual Cat or The Golden Land) and hundreds of pages of rhymed verse, some illustrated with line drawings. A dramatic poem on Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 and a puppet play about the rhythms of life in the “cut-over lands” (where timber companies had clear-cut the first-growth pines of the coastal forests) testify to his love of the epic and of theater. A series of love letters to his fiancée, Agnes "Sissy" Grinstead, whom he later married, written between 1930 and 1940, are notable for their passion and their reflections on his life as a struggling artist. Redding S. Sugg, Jr., an editor of Horn Island Logs, notes that Anderson had “a Blakean turn for aphorism.” His unpublished aphorisms, maxims and essays, written mostly between 1940 and 1965, cover a variety of subjects including nature, art history, politics, the mechanism of artistic creation, myth and fable, and reflections on other writers.

Patti Carr Black points out that Anderson regarded his art not as a “product”, but as a “process, a means of experiencing the world.” Writing clearly played the same role. “Why do I write this?” Anderson asks in one of the Horn Island logs. “I think writing has a cleansing effect, and although it is easy enough to keep the body clean, the mind seems to grow clogged.” He seems to have regarded his writing, like his painting, as kindling for what he called the “third poetry.” “The first poetry is always written against the wind by sailors and farmers who sing with the wind in their teeth. The second poetry is written by scholars and students, wine drinkers who [have] learned to know a good thing. The third poetry is sometimes never written; but when it is, it is written by those who have brought nature and art together into one thing.”

After Katrina


Anderson's work (his family's collection) was partially destroyed when Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 struck Ocean Springs in 2005, and the storm surge penetrated the small cinderblock building that had been built to house his works owned by his family safely after Hurricane Camille
Hurricane Camille
Hurricane Camille was the third and strongest tropical cyclone and second hurricane during the 1969 Atlantic hurricane season. The second of three catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the United States during the 20th century , which it did near the mouth of the Mississippi River...

. There was extensive water damage to the watercolors, drawings, manuscripts, and other objects that were kept there, and much of this work, from the Anderson Family collection, was dried and removed to Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University
The Mississippi State University of Agriculture and Applied Science commonly known as Mississippi State University is a land-grant university located in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, United States, partially in the town of Starkville and partially in an unincorporated area...

. Some has been restored by conservator Margaret Moreland. http://www.walteringlisanderson.com/index.php?page=/images/katrina/before_and_after/gallery.php Works housed on site at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art
Walter Anderson Museum of Art
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art opened in 1991 in historic Ocean Springs, Mississippi. WAMA is dedicated to the celebration of the works of Walter Inglis Anderson , American master, whose depictions of the plants, animals, and people of the Gulf Coast have placed him among the forefront of...

, Ocean Springs, were undamaged, although part of the offsite collection was (in 2006 the Museum undertook the restoration of Anderson's original linoleum blocks and other works.) The condition of the Community Center mural was worsened by the storm, and it was announced in June 2006 that it would be restored by a team from the Winterthur Conservation Project. Manuscripts of Anderson's writing, much of it unpublished, were kept at Shearwater and were damaged or destroyed. Fortunately, years earlier Anderson's correspondence and much of his other writing had been microfilmed for the Archives of American Art. Still more writing and biographical materials were photocopied before Katrina by Anderson biographer Christopher Maurer and those copies have been donated, together with copies of the archives of Shearwater Pottery, to Archives and Special Collections at the JD Williams Library, University of Mississippi.

Further reading


There is no complete catalogue either of Anderson's graphic work nor of his writing, and the compilation of such a volume acquires special urgency after Katrina. A checklist of surviving works -damaged and undamaged - would be a good first step. Major works by and about Anderson are listed below. Most have been published by the University Press of Mississippi
University Press of Mississippi
The University Press of Mississippi, founded in 1970, is a publisher that is sponsored by the eight state universities in Mississippi:*Alcorn State University*Delta State University*Jackson State University*Mississippi State University...

.
  • Walter Anderson. A Symphony of Animals, Introduction by Mary Anderson Pickard, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996
  • Agnes Grinstead Anderson. Approaching the Magic Hour. Memories of Walter Anderson Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi, 1989
  • Walter Anderson. Birds. Introductory essay by Mary Anderson Pickard. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi, 1990
  • The Horn Island Logs of Walter Inglis Anderson. Edited by Redding S. Sugg, Jr. Rev. ed., Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985
  • Walter Anderson’s Illustrations of Epic and Voyage. Edited and with an introduction by Redding S. Sugg, Jr. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press; London and Amsterdam: Feffer & Simmons, 1980
  • Redding S. Sugg, Jr. A Painter’s Psalm. The Mural from Walter Anderson’s Cottage. Rev. ed. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi, 1992
  • Walter Anderson: Realizations of the Islander. Selections of Paintings and Essay by John Paul Driscoll. The Walter Anderson Estate, 1985
  • The Voluptuous Return. Still Life by Walter Inglis Anderson. Foreword by Patti Carr Black. Ocean Springs: Family of Walter Anderson, 1999
  • Lisa Graley, ed. Interdisciplinary Humanities: Special Issue 2004-2005: Walter Inglis Anderson. National Association of Humanities Education. Vol. 21.1 2004
  • Anne R. King. Walls of Light. The Murals of Walter Anderson. Jackson: University Press
  • Christopher Maurer, Fortune's Favorite Child. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003
  • Norma Tilden, "Walter Anderson, Zographos," Yale Review, April 2005 (No. 2).
  • Dod Stewart, Shearwater Pottery, privately printed, 2005.
  • Documentary film, 2005: Win Riley and David Wolf, Walter Anderson: Realizations of an Artist (with the participation of the Anderson family and critics Christopher Maurer, Paul Richards, and Patti Carr Black.)http://www.walterandersondocumentary.com
  • Patti Carr Black. American Masters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast : George Ohr, Dusti Bongé, Walter Anderson, Richmond Barthe. Jackson, Miss.: Mississippi Arts Commission ; Starkville, Miss.: Department of Art, Mississippi State University, 2009.


Some of Anderson's best watercolors, oils, drawings, and decorated pottery may be seen at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art http://www.walterandersonmuseum.org; the Memphis Brooks Museum; the Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson); and the Lauren Rodgers Museum of Art (Laurel
Laurel, Mississippi
Laurel is a city located in Jones County in Mississippi, a state of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 18,393 although a significant population increase has been reported following Hurricane Katrina. Located in southeast Mississippi, southeast of...

). In 2003, his work was featured in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution. An illustrated book of Walter Anderson's linocut prints will be published in 2007 by the University Press of Mississippi
University Press of Mississippi
The University Press of Mississippi, founded in 1970, is a publisher that is sponsored by the eight state universities in Mississippi:*Alcorn State University*Delta State University*Jackson State University*Mississippi State University...

, with essays by Mary Anderson and Patricia Pinson.

External links