Learn About the Artists

Dwight Mackintosh


Dwight Mackintosh
Untitled (three figures), 1987
prismacolor on paper

Dwight Mackintosh spent most of his life in treatment for mental retardation, beginning at the age of 16. Very little is known about his early years; he spent fifty-six years in institutions until he was released in 1978. As he had previously shown an aptitude for drawing, and began participating in a program at the Creative Growth Center in Oakland, California, sparking off twenty years of image-making.

Mackintosh’s work is often characterized by his commanding lines, emphatically intertwining to form pictures of figures, vehicles, buildings, and other recurring motifs. It was difficult to understand Mackintosh’s speech, but through his drawings his personal and imaginative world became apparent. The images in his work emerge from the complex weave of lines and secret, undecipherable text to form forceful, bold compositions. John MacGregor, a noted art historian and authority on Mackintosh’s work, describes the power of his drawings, as “they represent the externalization of the artist’s internal reality. The consistent pictorial language in which the images are embodied is exclusively the product of internal necessity and of obsessive need to fill the blankness of paper with personal markings.” (1)


(1) MacGregor, John. Dwight Mackintosh: The Boy Who Time Forgot (Oakland: Creative Growth Center, 1990), 12.

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