Published by Walther König, Köln. Edited with text by Barbara Paca, Susanne Pfeffer. Text by Precious Okoyomon, Cord Riechelmann, Gilane Tawadros, Krista Thompson, Frank Walter
A brilliant autodidact, Antiguan artist and writer Frank Walter (1926-2009) created amazing, luminously colored landscape paintings, imaginary and real portraits, and near-abstractions that subtly explore themes of class, race, nuclear energy and much more.
This substantial paperback volume, published for a major exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, appraises his diverse oeuvre in all its visual and thematic richness, introducing a little-known protagonist of Caribbean art, whose oeuvre is only recently beginning to be recognized, to a wider audience.
Antiguan artist and writer Frank Walter (1926–2009) was an eccentric character now considered to be vastly under-recognized. Intellectually brilliant, Walter entertained delusions of aristocratic grandeur, namely the belief that the white slave-owners in his family linked him to the noble houses of Europe. The self-styled “7th Prince of the West Indies, Lord of Follies and the Ding-a-Ding Nook” produced paintings that dealt with race, class and social identity, as well as abstract explorations of nuclear energy, portraits both real and imagined—including Hitler playing cricket and Prince Charles and Princess Diana as Adam and Eve—and miniature landscapes of Scotland, the country that he fell in love with during a visit in 1960. Walter typically painted in oil on rudimentary materials, with a marked immediacy and naivety. The first man of color to manage an Antiguan sugar plantation, Walter spent the last 25 years of his life in an isolated home in Antigua, surrounded by his writings, paintings and carvings. Coinciding with Antigua and Barbuda's inaugural National Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2017, The Last Universal Man is the first comprehensive monograph of this important Caribbean artist. Defying categorization as an outsider or self-taught artist, Walter worked as a writer, composer, sculptor and painter. Barbara Paca, an art historian who also serves as Cultural Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda, interviewed Walter over a seven-year period prior to his death, and provides insight and perspective into both the artist as a man and his prodigious body of work.