Eddie Arning (1898–1993) was born in a farming town in Texas. He was placed in a mental institution after he committed violent acts as a teenager. In 1964, after a half-century of life inside, this quintessential outsider artist was introduced to drawing by a hospital worker. Arning began making pictures with Crayolas, before switching in 1969 to oil pastels (or “Cray-pas”). Over ten years, he produced over 2000 images. He stopped drawing suddenly in 1974 after he was forced to leave his nursing home due to “bad conduct” (per Wikipedia).
The drawings below are all in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The full Arning archive is available online here. First would like to thank individuals who have donated Arning’s drawings to the Smithsonian, as well as those who have facilitated the purchase of his art. If only they’d got a chance to throw Arning a party like the famous one Picasso hosted in Paris for the Douanier Rousseau! B.D.