March 10, 2006


Richard Wawro (Daily Telegraph, 11/03/2006)

Richard Wawro, who has died aged 53, was a Scottish artist and autistic savant; although diagnosed as a retarded child, he earned acclaim for his landscapes and seascapes created through the unusual medium of wax oil crayons.

He produced highly detailed and dramatic images of intense depth and colour, and his work is admired and owned by people who would not consider themselves art collectors. Notable owners of Wawro originals include Lady Thatcher and the late Pope John Paul II.

Wawro was afflicted by savant syndrome, a rare condition affecting people with serious mental disabilities, including autistic disorder; but he was said to be one of only 25 recognised prodigious savants in the world. When he was three years old, his parents were told he was "moderately to severely retarded". His autistic behaviour was characterised by an obsession for sameness, withdrawal, walking in circles, endlessly spinning objects, and a preoccupation with the piano, striking a single key for hours at a time.

As a child, he needed surgery for cataracts on both eyes, and he was unable to speak normally until the age of 11. A year later, however, Professor Marian Bohusz-Szyszko of the Polish School of Art in London declared himself "thunderstruck" when he was shown the boy's drawings; he described Wawro's works as an "incredible phenomenon rendered with the precision of a mechanic and the vision of a poet".

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 10, 2006 9:27 PM

I hate to say it but his work is boring and not all that technically good.

Posted by: Amos at March 10, 2006 9:54 PM

Boring is the point.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2006 10:00 PM

they strike me as a rendering of his internal universe.

Posted by: toe at March 10, 2006 10:26 PM

Not bad as outsider art, but really nothing special. I'd still rather have a Klimt or Warhol or pretty much any good piece of futurism or surrealism on my wall.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 11, 2006 2:04 AM

He has a perfect sense of contrary motion and texture. I dare Amos or PapayaSF to produce anything better with crayons.

Posted by: Randall Voth at March 11, 2006 5:31 AM

Speaking of crap....

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2006 7:31 AM
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