Sean Donnola, Frank Walter, Antiguan Artist, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

The Unknown Antiguan Visionary Who Knew He Was “the Most Important Living Artist” | Artsy.Net In the mid-1970s, the unknown Antiguan artist Frank Walter began contacting some unconventional venues in the hopes of landing a retrospective.



He wrote letters all over the world, saying, ‘I’m the most important living artist and I’d like to have an exhibition,’” explains Barbara Paca, one of the key organizers of a survey of Walter’s work being presented at the Antigua and Barbuda pavilion of the Venice Biennale. “The challenge was, he’d decided he wanted to have the exhibition in a coal mine in North Staffordshire. Or a youth hostel in Germany. Or a cruise ship in Italy.”

Unsurprisingly, none of those grand ambitions panned out for Walter. But the artist, who died in 2009, is finally getting a serious spotlight in Venice with “The Last Universal Man,” his country’s debut outing at the Biennale. It’s a rich exploration of his paintings—many of them executed on unconventional materials, like the small backing of Polaroid film boxes—as well as sculptures, signage, obsessive hand-written genealogy records, and other ephemera from his uncommon life.

Frank Walter, Antiguan Artist, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNFrank Walter, Polaroid Photograph, 1992 | Kenneth M. Milton Fine Arts Conservation

Frank Walter, Antiguan Artist, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Frank Walter, Antiguan Artist, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNInstallation view of “Frank Walter: The Last Universal Man 1926-2009” |

Frank Walter, Antiguan Artist, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNInstallation view of “Frank Walter: The Last Universal Man 1926-2009” |

Sean Donnola, Frank Walter, Antiguan Artist, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Photo | Photograph by Sean Donnola


Antigua, also known as Waladli or Wadadli by the native population, is an island in the West Indies. It is one of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean region and the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations on 1 November 1981.

Antigua means “ancient” in Spanish after an icon in Seville Cathedral, “Santa Maria de la Antigua” — St. Mary of the Old Cathedral. The name Waladli comes from the indigenous inhabitants and means approximately “our own”.[citation needed] The island’s circumference is roughly 87 km (54 mi) and its area 281 km2 (108 sq mi). Its population was 80,161 (at the 2011 Census). The economy is mainly reliant on tourism, with the agricultural sector serving the domestic market. (Wikipedia).