B. 1962, United States
George Widener was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. A self-taught artist and calendar savant, Widener creates mixed-media works on paper that give aesthetic, visible form to complex calculations based on dates and historical events—the sinking of the Titanic being one of his favorites. The artist often uses found paper, or a support composed of layers of tea-stained paper napkins. His drawings feature simple palettes, sophisticated patterning, and bold compositions of dates and imagery that transcend centuries of time and the history of art.
Widener, who sometimes likens himself to a “time traveler,” has been highly visible in the contemporary art arena and has had significant film and media exposure. On October, 2012, Nova Science aired “How Smart Can We Get?” featuring a segment on Widener. He was also profiled in “Ingenious Minds: George Widener,” the last episode of a six-part series of films focusing on savants and geniuses—which aired on the Discovery Science Channel in March, 2011. The artist is also a subject in the 2007 documentary film “My Brilliant Brain: Accidental Genius.”
Widener’s work has been extensively exhibited worldwide. The artist was part of the exhibition World Transformers: The Art of the Outsiders, at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2010) and Exhibition 1 at the Museum of Everything in London (2009). Additionally, fourteen of Widener’s works were in the exhibition Hiding Places: Memory in the Arts at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI (2011). Widener was also included in the exhibition The Alternative Guide to the Universe, curated by Ralph Rugoff at The Hayward Gallery in London (2013).
Widener’s work is in many international private collections and museum collections, including the American Folk Art Museum (New York), collection abcd / Bruno Decharme (Paris), The Museum of Everything (London), the Kroller-Muller Museum (the Netherlands), and the Collection de l’art brut (Lausanne). Widener was also in a major exhibition titled Secret Universe IV: George Widener, curated by Udo Kittlemann (with Claudia Dichter) the director Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie, at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin (2013).