Eddie Arning

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Eddie Arning (American, 1898–1993)
Photo credit: Gerald Langford. Courtesy of the Estate of Alexander Sackton.

Eddie Arning was born in Germania, Texas. His parents, both German immi­grants of Lutheran faith, had five children. In 1905 the couple purchased a farm. Arning lived and worked on the farm until 1928, when the Austin County Court sent him to the state hospital because of violent behavior. In 1934 he was committed to the Texas Confederate Home for Men, where staff member Helen Mayfield pro­vided art materials to the patients.

Arning began drawing scenes of farm life and geometric shapes in 1964. He introduced flattened, angular human figures, laid out with pencil and a straight­edge, to his work in 1966. Initially using crayon, he started working with oil pastels, blending to create an array of colors, in 1969. He rubbed his works to achieve a smoothly polished surface. Arning collected magazine advertisements and photos to use as source materials. He also collected objects such as clothing, wood, and metal. A small group of patrons purchased his work, which was cataloged first by Rob Cogswell in 1966, then by collector and friend Alexander Sackton starting in 1967. Arning signed his works "Artis Wrk by E.A." Over a nine-year period, he created between two thousand and twenty-five hundred drawings.

Arning entered a nursing home in 1967. Asked to leave in 1973 because of uncooperative behavior, he moved in with his sister and stopped drawing within a year. After three years, he moved to Westview Manor Nursing home in MacGregor, Texas, where he died in 1993.

Source: Andera, Margaret, and Lisa Stone. "Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection". (Milwaukee, WI: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2012), page 199.

Collection Search: Arning, Eddie

  • Eddie Arning (American, 1898–1993)
  • Black Bear, 1962
  • Eddie Arning (American, 1898–1993)
  • Black Donkey, ca. 1964–73

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