First published: Summer 2003
Martha Grunenwaldt only began to make art when she was 71. Living at her daughter Josine’s home in Mouscron, Belgium, she instinctively took up her grand-children’s colouring pencils and began to create a new world, making her distinctive colourful drawings. With an extraordinary energy, Grunenwaldt set to work, pouring out images day after day, filling up thousands of sheets of paper. Grunenwaldt is not the only Outsider artist to have bloomed late in life: Pascal-Désir Maisonneuve was making art when he was 64, Benjamin Bonjour was 60, Jeanne Tripier 66, Paul Duhem 70, Dwight Mackintosh 73 and Bill Traylor 84.
All began to create at a stage when they had nothing to prove – they simply felt the desire to make art. They appear to verify Jean Dubuffet’s belief that some people simply create because they need to. They work without premeditation, driven by a vital desire.
In the beginning, Grunenwaldt drew clumsy stuttering graphic characters, often images of women, sometimes drawing on the back of posters her politically active daughter brought back from elections, demonstrations and meetings. They were the perfect medium on which to communicate Grunenwaldt’s own particular vision of an ideal world.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #43