University of Arizona

Students, faculty, staff, and the public are now welcome to visit Special Collections without an appointment from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

Warren H. Anderson Photograph Collection

Warren H. Anderson, 1925-2005, obtained a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa and ten years later he received a Ph.D. from Stanford University in art education. From 1956 until 1986 Anderson was a Professor of Art and founder of the Department of Art Education at the University of Arizona. In 1981 Anderson published a book, Vanishing Roadside America, in which his art documented the fading roadside grandeur that he witnessed on his trips across the country. Anderson’s assemblages, photo collages and richly detailed drawings chronicle the vanishing American roadside as seen in the remains of gas pumps and globes, automobiles and tourist-related signage. He painstakingly crafted his prismacolor drawings in the manner of vintage high chroma linen textured postcards. 

Presented more as “dignified relics” than cultural oddities, Anderson’s works became nostalgic remembrances by the sheer selection of the images, not the manner in which they are articulated. In the spirit of the first generation Photo-Realists, Anderson made no attempt to idealize what he drew, rendering his signs in all their dilapidated glory.

Photographs, 1950-1995 (bulk 1970-1989). The bulk of the material relates to his dual careers as a professor of art education and as an artist. Anderson founded the Department of Art Education at the University of Arizona and in 1979 he developed a course called Environmental Aesthetics which he taught for almost a decade. The collection includes the slides presented in that class and also includes some accompanying typed and handwritten notes and class handouts. As an artist, Warren Anderson was primarily known for his realistic prismacolor drawings and these are represented here along with drawings from the book he published in 1981, Vanishing Roadside America. The collection also includes many family photographs and photographs from his travels across the United States and overseas. The collection consists primarily of slides but also included are print photographs, negatives, 8 mm films, printed notes and class handouts, and articles. It also contains several large photographs, some mounted, and an original photo montage, “Travel on Gravel with Ethyl.” A framed drawing, “Dos Cabezas with Homeward Gaze,” hangs in the Special Collections Department.