Walter Williams (1920-1998)

Walter Williams, Madonna Ikon #2, 1982, mixed media collage on cotton fabric, 22.5 x 17.5 inches, signed lower right

According to Rene Hanks in The Other Side of Color, Walter Williams did not start creating art until he was 30 years old, when he used his veterans benefits to enroll in art classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. There he studied under Ben Shahn, Reuben Tam and Gregorio Prestopino.

In 1962 he moved to Copenhagen, Denmark where he lived until his death in 1998. But in 1968 he briefly returned to the United States to serve as an artist-in-residence at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. It was there that he started a series of paintings based on black life in the American South. Characterized by warm colors, flowers, butterflies, birds and children, these works reflected his optimism about the future of race relations.

Williams’s work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York City; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Pennsylvania; The White House, National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.; Mexican American Institute, Mexico City, Mexico; Howard University Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. It is also in many private collections.