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Bruce Anderson was born in 1945 in Mankato, Minnesota into an artistic family. His father George and his uncle Barney are both artists, as is his sister Lynn. The family eventually moved to Rochester and Bruce attended high school there, then spent one year at Rochester Junior College before coming in 1965 to the Minneapolis School of Art (MSA, now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design). The school's director, Arnold Herstand, had European contacts and had set up a junior year program that enabled MSA students to study in Haarlem, in Holland, at a program called Ateliers 63. Bruce went in 1967.

He stayed on a second year at the school's invitation. Ateliers 63's lithography instructor was master printer Piet Clement, and in 1969 Bruce went to work in the litho department at Clement's Printshop 845 in Amsterdam. Clement printed for top international artists, and Anderson helped print works by Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, and others. He made some of his own lithographs, but painting continued to be his main focus. "He was a man for action painting," recalled Clement. While still in Holland, Bruce began experiencing emotional difficulties that would increase in intensity and eventually be diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia.

After his return to Minneapolis in 1972, Anderson set up studios on 26th Street near Nicollet Avenue and then on Harmon Place by Loring Park. By 1975 he was in a storefront studio by 12th and Franklin Avenues, just south of downtown Minneapolis, where he would paint the Ascension series. Here he began developing his lifelong contacts within Minneapolis's Native American community. By 1980 he had relocated to another storefront studio closer to downtown, at 10th Avenue South near Chicago Avenue. In 1983 he purchased his present house, a looming, historic brick home by Interstate 35W in South Minneapolis. Anderson has exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Duluth's Tweed Museum and at numerous galleries. Anderson has won two Pollock-Krasner Foundation grants.

Doug Hanson, Impressions from a Red Room. Photograph by Gerald Gustafson.