In the 1940’s, Walter Anderson carved a series of 300 groundbreaking large-scale linoleum blocks, among the first of their size in American art history.
Taken from classic myths, fairy tales, and legends, these fairy tale block prints often feature moments of transformation. One of these blocks depicted the Greek myth, Cupid and Psyche, which tells a story of transformation and enlightenment as the mortal woman, Psyche, becomes the goddess of the soul after a series of trials leading to her union with Cupid.
In 2017, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art conserved the rare hand-painted Cupid and Psyche block print, damaged and nearly lost in Hurricane Katrina. The Museum presents the newly conserved Cupid and Psyche block print for the very first time since its restoration in Cupid & Psyche: Love Story, alongside works that Walter Anderson painted of his wife, Agnes Grinstead “Sissy” Anderson.
“In its own way, the block print has gone through a transformation,” said Mattie Codling, Director of Collections and Exhibitions. “Staff and conservators worked together to preserve the piece, going through our own set of trials to reach our final destination. The block print’s surface has been cleaned and its tears mended, but it still bears the scars of its past. I believe these tears and stains make the work more beautiful, a testament to the enduring beauty of Anderson’s work.”
"It is a reminder that quintessential love is achieved not by magic, but through commitment; sharing life and art through periods of trial and triumph," said Julian Rankin, Museum Director.
The exhibition also includes excerpts from letters between Walter and Sissy from their courtship.
August, 1930 Walter Anderson in a letter to Sissy
“A train went by and you said something about its taking you away and I wanted to tell you how much I hated to have you go. But I couldn’t because one of the frogs got into my throat, and all I could do was croak. I had the feeling sitting beside you then that something was going to happen and it did. I loved you and I wanted to make our lives a fairy tale. . .”
“. . . [but] I was just the poor beast who loved the lady, and when he found that the lady didn’t love him, there was nothing for him to do but set off on his travels. Only he didn’t, the lady did, and he stayed behind and decorated pots.”
September 3, 1930 Sissy in a letter to Walter
Deer Isle (Maine)
What is it that makes an island so fascinating? This, of course, is nothing like Horn Island, but it has got a wee fraction of that enchanted atmosphere. Your last letter had some Horn Island plans that will keep me thinking about you for some time. . .
*Bob was Walter Anderson’s family nickname for him.