Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965) is considered one of the pre-eminent artists of the 20th c. American south. Anderson’s artistic vision paired with the subjects of the Gulf Coast have made his work an extraordinary example of American modernism.
Walter Anderson was a painter, muralist, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramist. The Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, houses the primary collection of his works. Anderson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he received a Cresson Fellowship to study in Paris in 1927. In Paris, he became enamored with the Paleolithic cave paintings of the Dordogne Caves, which he preferred over the modernist excitement of the art world. The Dordogne Cave art henceforth had a noticeable influence on his drawing style.
He returned to Ocean Springs in 1929 and worked for his brother at the Shearwater Pottery Company. In 1934, he painted murals for the Ocean Springs High School with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) program. In 1940, after three years of being hospitalized for mental illness, he and his wife and children moved to Oldfields, the family home in Gautier, MS. In 1946, he began working alone at Horn Island. In 1950 and 1951, he was commissioned to paint murals for the Ocean Springs Community Center. His subjects often depicted the flora and fauna of the Gulf Coast.
After his death, his family discovered a large amount of work in what was called the "little room," a place at his home where he worked in solitude for 20 years. Every inch of the walls and ceiling were painted in his unique vision. The "little room" remains wholly intact and on permanent display at the Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs.