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Little is known of Walsingham’s biography as a painter other than that he obtained and developed his artistic influence in the USA, particularly in New York. He grew up in Germany and moved to England, but belongs to the American Action Art movement. His artistic work has developed in the 1990s and is found mainly in major European private collections. Since 1998 the art collection is limited to about 30 completed pieces. Walsingham now lives in a mansion in the South of England.
Walsingham’s early works are still influenced by the European trends of Surrealism and Naivety, only later he turns to subjective Expressionism. The experience of Jackson Pollock had inspired his own style as he overcame the negation of the artist, as in the case with Pollock’s work. With Walsingham the process of painting comes into a new balance to the subjectivity of expression. The personality of the painter returns through structurality that had completely dissolved in Pollock. It is Walsingham’s merit to have stopped the total vagueness of Abstract Expressionism and the dissolution of the personal statement by the re-introduction of structures. In Pollock’s work the basic subject of the relationship between body and soul searches for forms, Walsingham finds metaphors that have as its theme a mental interrelated activity.
The development from Abstract Expressionism to Personal Expressionismn
The question of subjectivity that Pollock denied and that excluded the artist from the work of art was put by Walsingham into a new form. It turns into the question of personality which he gives an affirmative answer and which takes the beholder into the picture. The overcoming of the dissolution of forms of Expressionism, that does not fall back on subjectivity, but puts the personality (of the artist or the beholder) into the centre of the discourse, is the brilliant, trendsetting performance of Walsingham. With his reference to Personal Expressionism he anticipated artistically the catastrophe of 9/11 already in 1991 (Burning Manhattan), which highlights the central cultural problem of the present (the new religiousness of the 21st century, fundamentalism, terrorism with religious motives).
Works (exemplary selection)
- 1991 Burning Manhattan
- 1993 Coffee
- 1995 Sequoia
- 1998 Thoughts
- 1998 Red 1
- 1998 Red 2
- 1998 Red 0
- Barbara von Braun: John Walsingham. Zu seinen Bildern Red 1 und Red 2. Frankfurt am Main 2007.
- "Ausstellung des Buchillustrators John Walsingham in der Goethe-Akademie". Literaturmarkt. Retrieved 17 January 2014.