‘Frank Walter: To Capture a Soul’ at The Drawing Center + ‘Josh Smith: Life Drawing’, a Homage to Frank Walter ~ on View in June




Frank Walter, Egg, n.d. Photocopy, 4.8 x 4 inches (12.2 x 10.2 cm)

The Drawing Center is pleased to present Frank Walter: To Capture a Soul, the first solo museum exhibition in the United States to focus on the work of Antiguan artist Frank Walter (1926–2009). A polymath with a keen intellect and thirst for knowledge, Walter created a body of work that encompasses a variety of mediums, subject matter, and styles. During his lifetime Walter produced over 5,000 paintings, 1,000 drawings, 600 sculptures, 2,000 photographs, 468 hours of recordings, and a 50,000-page archive. Organized by The Drawing Center’s Chief Curator Claire Gilman, To Capture a Soul provides insight into not only Walter’s artistic practice but also his relationship to issues of race and identity, the legacy of slavery, the colonial and postcolonial experience, and the history and politics of Antigua, Barbuda, and beyond. On view June 21st.

Frank Walter, MWG Milky Way Galaxy, n.d. Oil on Fiberboard, 18.5 x 14.6 inches (47 x 37 cm)

Frank Walter was a recorder seeking to capture the world around him at every turn. His wide-ranging body of work encompasses impressionistic, brightly-colored landscapes on cardboard; expressive linear portraits on paper; bold, abstract cosmological compositions; carved wooden sculptures; and pages upon pages of writing including poems, written narratives, genealogical trees, maps, and musical scores. As a rule, Walter worked small, obsessively filling materials that were available to hand like cardboard, paper, and even the backs of the Polaroids that he sold in the photo studio he operated for a number of years. Drawing was not necessarily Walter’s primary medium but it was his constant, and there is what one might call a “drawing impulse” at the core of his investigative drive. Friends from Antigua recall him always with a pencil in hand. With only a few lines, one acquaintance observed, he would capture your soul. Frank Walter: To Capture a Soulconsiders this artist and thinker through the lens of his drawings, featuring works on paper alongside works on cardboard and wood, and many of his notebooks as well as his musical, genealogical and poetic compositions.

Josh Smith, Untitled, 2022. Monotype on Rives BFK, 40 1/4 x 57 1/2 inches (102.2 x 146.1 cm). Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner © Josh Smith

Frank Walter: To Capture a Soul also explores Walter’s widespread impact on contemporary art by inviting artists to engage with Walter’s work both in the galleries and in the accompanying publication and public programs. On the occasion of To Capture a Soul, The Drawing Center presents Josh Smith: Life Drawing, the first exhibition of drawings by acclaimed contemporary artist Josh Smith, conceived by the artist as an homage to Frank Walter. On view at The Drawing Center from June 21 through September 15, both exhibitions are organized by Chief Curator Claire Gilman with Isabella Kapur, Curatorial Associate. Barbara Paca is Consulting Curator for Frank Walter: To Capture a Soul.

Artist Biography Frank Walter (1926-2009) was born Francis Archibald Wentworth Walter on Horsford Hill, Antigua. A descendant of enslaved persons and plantation owners and burdened with the distinction of being the first person of color to be a manager of a sugar plantation on the island of Antigua, Walter struggled with his identity and place in the world. He was torn between his Black Caribbean ancestry and his Northern Europe heritage, embarking on a tour of Europe and the UK between 1953 and 1961 in search of his familial roots. Unprepared for the racism he experienced, he returned to Antigua where he worked as a photographer, frame maker, and artist before designing and building a home, art studio, and garden in a remote location on Bailey’s Hill in Antigua in 1993. There, he took refuge, depicting the fertile landscape and the people he encountered as well as envisioning and rendering imagined universes.

Frank Walter: To Capture a Soul + Josh Smith: Life Drawing, on view from June 21 through September 15, 2024 at The Drawing Center, located at 35 Wooster Street, NYC.


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