George Widener

By Darold Treffert, MD

George Widener is a multiply gifted savant with skills in art, memory, and calendar calculating. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1962 and growing up in Kentucky, George was not diagnosed with Asperger syndrome until he was in his thirties. Today he is a working artist and his drawings have been exhibited throughout the world.

When he was a teenager, Widener came across a passenger list from the Titanic and found that one of the victims shared his name. Today his "Funeral for Titanic" (2007) is part of the collection of the American Folk Art Museum.

In 1998 George began combining calendar dates with magic squares to create what he calls a Magic Time Square.  Using historical events, these can create a calendrical "portrait" of a person.

George has lightning fast recall of thousands of historical details and census statistics. One meeting with mega-savant Kim Peek proved to be a fascinating one: an encounter illustrating the differences and similarities between George’s prodigious, creative memory and Kim’s monumental sheer recall of all that he has ever read developed, as they rapidly exchanged dozens of spontaneous dates and facts. Their reactions and comebacks to each other’s responses were amazing. French filmmaker and art collector Bruno Decharme captured it as part of a  2008 short film he created and produced about George and his artwork. 

George was also featured in the "Accidental Genius" portion of the series, My Brilliant Brain. In 2018 he was featured on CBS Sunday morning..

For further information about George, visit the online presence of the Ricco/Maresca Gallery


Additional Reading

Safarova, B., Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart Berlin., Staatliche Museen zu Berlin., Dichter, C., & Kittelmann, U. (2013). Secret universe 4 : George Widener. Köln: Walther König.

Treffert, D. A., & Tammet, D. (2012). Islands of genius: The bountiful mind of the autistic, acquired, and sudden savant.

Widener, G. (2009). Art of George Widener.

 

Savant Syndrome FAQ and Profiles

View Savant Syndrome FAQs and read fascinating profiles of artistic savants.

Recommended Reading

Choose from a list of books to learn more about savant syndrome or do in-depth research using the bibliography provided by Dr. Treffert.

Treffert Library

The Treffert Library features the life works of Dr. Treffert, helping to foster research and knowledge across the autism and savant syndrome spectrum and other forms of exceptional brain performance.