All through his life George Widener has been fascinated with calendars.
“Other kids lined toys up in a row,” he said. “I lined up dates.”
Yet his fixation with calendars has ultimately turned him into a celebrated artist whose striking paintings of numbers, cities, maps and machines have been exhibited all around the world
Widener’s work lets us envisage the world as a savant does. One of his more recent interests is magic squares , which are squares of numbers such that each line, each column and each diagonal adds up to the same number.
For example, in the piece above, the top line is 23 + 6 + 19 + 2 + 15 = 65, and the first column is 23 + 4 + 10 + 11 + 17 = 65.
^^ Source picture above : http://www.theguardian.com/science/alexs-adventures-in-numberland/2013/jun/17/mathematics
A more detailed view of this magic square :
Above my absolute favourite drawing made by Widener : a list of all airplanes crashing on a Sunday ! He writes in his own words on this drawing ( upper left corner ) : ” Some people go to church on Sunday and some get in an airplane . Sometimes both of them end up praying at the exact same second because the plane is going to crash ” ( If you go to the link and click on this particular image over there , you will get in a new window a much bigger and better picture of it )
Here are some very good quality videos about Widener :
More drawings on :
Here in this post , I let Wikipedia make all the effort to explain what Savant Syndrome is :
A Fair of Savant Art ( UK 2011 )
James Kalm gets funky and invites viewers to join him as he takes a brief tour of the 2011 version of the “Outsiders Art Fair”. With the current state of art and “critical theory” having reached a level of hermetic indecipherability, audiences and artists have sought more meaningful content. Authenticity had become the new measure of relevance and with a few exceptions Outsider art is being reconsidered as the locus of a revived humanism. Strolling through this fair we catch glimpses of works by many of the best known Outsiders including: Purvis Young, Howard Finster, Bill Traylor, William Hawkins, Michel Nedjar, George Widener et al. Among the Outsiders, there’s always room for stunning surprises, and this fair is no exception
Would love to make a small series on the art of savant artists . Stephen Wiltshire is the first one of such artists that I saw in a documentary a very long time ago . Since then , I once visited long time ago ( 2007-ish ) a small art exposition by several savant artists . I was very impressed by the art of these people , and I spent a whole afternoon in admiration of the many amazing little details in their art work . Even took some notes of their words on some of these art works . Unfortunately , I had no digital camera back then , otherwise I would have taken numerous pictures . I have now found out that with a small digital camera , even musea don’t bother at all , when you take hundreds of pictures inside .
But what exactly is savant art ? So let’s read what Wikipedia has to say about it . Yes , I know Wikipedia is an absolute no-no for academic professional scientists , but since I am not writing a rigourous peer-reviewed article for publication here , it can be used here on a homemade blog , without having any guilt feelings !
Savant syndrome is a condition in which a person with a serious mental disability, such as an autism pectrum disorder, demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal. People with savant syndrome may have neurodevelopmental disorders , notably autism spectrum disorders, or brain injuries . The most dramatic examples of savant syndrome occur in individuals who score very low on IQ tests, while demonstrating exceptional skills or brilliance in specific areas, such as rapid calculation, art, memory, or musical ability. In spite of the name “syndrome” , it is not recognized as a menatl disorder nor as part of mental disorder in medical manuals such as the ICD-10 or the DSM-IV (…) According to psychiatrist Darold Treffert , almost all savants have prodigious memory which he describes as “very deep, but exceedingly narrow.” It is narrow in the sense that savants may exhibit exceptional memory but have difficulty putting it to use. Some individuals with savant syndrome also have a keen sense of priority, which can involve a broad understanding of politics, law, and a conceivably heightened vocabulary. Savant skills are usually found in one or more of five major areas: art, musical abilities, calendar calculation, mathematics and spatial skills . 50% of savants have autism; the other 50% often have some other forms of central nervous system injury or disease.
And Stephen Wiltshire has his own page on Wikipedia :
Stephen Wiltshire (born 24 April 1974) is a British architectural artist who has been diagnosed with autism . He is known for his ability to draw from memory a landscape after seeing it just once. His work has gained worldwide popularity. (…) Wiltshire can look at a subject once and then draw an accurate and detailed picture of it. He frequently draws entire cities from memory, based on double, brief helicopter rides
On his own webpage , one can read :
Stephen Wiltshire is an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. He has a particular talent for drawing lifelike, accurate representations of cities, sometimes after having only observed them briefly. He was awarded an MBE for services to the art world in 2006. He studied Fine Art at City & Guilds Art College. His work is popular all over the world, and is held in a number of important collections.
Here is his gallery of black and white drawings : http://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk/gallery.aspx ( 41 pages )
Some short videos about him : http://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk/videos.aspx
I would love to make some posts about the artwork of other savants as well .