Untitled

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  • Provenance

    The Artist
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    NOAH PURIFOY
    Born 1917, Snow Hill, AL
    Died 2004, Joshua Tree, CA

    1956 BFA, Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA
    1948 MA, Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
    1943 BS, Alabama State Teachers College, Montgomery, AL

    Selected honors: Visual Artist Award, The Flintridge Foundation, Pasadena, CA (1997-8), Pollock Krasner Foundation (1993)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, California; and the Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, California
    Selected public collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Smithsonian Archives of American Art; University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

    “I do not wish to be an artist,” Noah Purifoy wrote in 1963, “I only wish that art enables me to be.” The first African American full-time student to enroll in Chouinard Art Institute, Purifoy was a social worker, teacher and assemblage artist whose remarkable legacy is only beginning to be fully understood, due in part to his 2015 retrospective at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

    A key figure in the California assemblage movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Purifoy was a founding director of the Watts Towers Arts Center. In art as in life, he pursued his fervent belief in “art as a tool for change”. As Purifoy once explained, “I’ve never been happy with the little things that hang on the wall. I perceived art as a tool for change and when I started the program in Watts I saw art as a potential savior.” Inspired by Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, an outdoor installation created from scrap metal and found objects, and the charred debris of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Purifoy pursued a Duchampian approach to art making that profoundly impacted artists such as David Hammons, John Outterbridge and Senga Nengudi. As Purifoy recalled of the impact of the Watts rebellion: “I was in the middle of it but I wasn’t afraid, I thought it was great because it was overdue and it turned out to be a gold mine for me. I collected three tons of debris from the riot and began making art out of it…the debris from the riot is what finally launched me on my own course.”

    After eleven years of public policy work for the California Arts Council, where Purifoy initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions to bring art into the state prison system, the artist moved to the southern Mojave Desert in the late 1980s. Over the course of the last fifteen years of his life, Purifoy created what is now the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Sculpture Museum, which contains large scale assemblages, sculptures and installations.

  • Artist Bio

    Noah Purifoy

    American • 1917 - 2004

     The first African American full-time student to enroll in Chouinard Art Institute, Purifoy was a social worker, teacher and assemblage artist whose remarkable legacy is only beginning to be fully understood, due in part to his 2015 retrospective at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

    A key figure in the California assemblage movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Purifoy was a founding director of the Watts Towers Arts Center. In art as in life, he pursued his fervent belief in “art as a tool for change”. Inspired by Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, an outdoor installation created from scrap metal and found objects, and the charred debris of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Purifoy pursued a Duchampian approach to art making that profoundly impacted artists such as David Hammons, John Outterbridge and Senga Nengudi.

    After eleven years of public policy work for the California Arts Council, where Purifoy initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions to bring art into the state prison system, the artist moved to the southern Mojave Desert in the late 1980s. Over the course of the last fifteen years of his life, Purifoy created what is now the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Sculpture Museum, which contains large scale assemblages, sculptures and installations.

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66

Untitled

mixed media
18 x 23 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (45.7 x 59.7 x 9.5 cm.)
Executed in 1999.

Estimate on Request

AMERICAN AFRICAN AMERICAN

New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019