John R. Anderson

"All I ever wanted to do was paint." 

John R. Anderson’s expressive, abstract paintings are a grand melody of immersive color, texture, and rhythm. The artist drips, splatters, and smears acrylics onto a large canvas which he moves between easel and floor. Through the delicate juxtaposition of deliberateness and spontaneity, Anderson alters the surface, pigment, and orientation of a painting, much like a musician alters the tone, tempo, and movement of a symphony. He focuses on the process of creation and often takes several years to attain a desired expression. From a sanctuary of personal freedom and sincerity in Yankton, South Dakota, Anderson’s work remains sheltered from social and artistic developments. Yankton’s privacy has offered a unique preservation of time and individual progression, allowing Anderson to carry out his dream of truly painting from within. 


Anderson was born in Yankton, South Dakota, in 1931. As a student of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, he participated in Oskar Kokoschka’s symposia in 1952, then earned his BFA at the University of Denver School of Art in 1958, when Vance Kirkland was its director. In the late 1960s, Anderson painted extensively in Mexico, inspired by pre-Columbian art. He held his first major show at the Guadalajara Jalisco State Gallery, however, the revolutionary abstract art exhibited was met with overtly hostile criticism. Anderson then moved to London to pursue his artistic aspirations. In 1971, he returned to Yankton, South Dakota, to paint in isolation as he developed a deep and authentic form of personal expression. Although Anderson held a one-man show at the Yankton Area Arts Association at G.A.R. Hall in 2009, his mystifying story and paintings remained hidden from the rest of the world. In November 2017, a 73 Art Agency team traveled from Denver to Yankton to meet Anderson and tour his studio. In April 2018, 51 of his lyrical abstract paintings were selected and showcased for the exhibition Uncovered in Colorado.