Purvis Young - AMERICAN AFRICAN AMERICAN New York Friday, February 8, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Vanity Novelty Garden, Miami Beach (acquired directly from the artist)
    The Jimmy Hedges Collection of Outsider Art

  • Literature

    Jimmy Hedges, The Jimmy Hedges Papers and Rising Fawn Folk Art Gallery Records (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1943, Miami, FL
    Died 2010, Miami, FL

    Selected honors: National Endowment for the Arts
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
    Selected public collections: Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York, NY

    With Purvis Young’s work heading to the 2019 Venice Biennale, the late artist is firmly entering the pantheon of art history after years of been labelled an “outsider artist”. Born in Miami in 1943, Young became a local cultural icon as an entirely self-taught artist who dealt with the plight of the underprivileged, consequences of racism and daily violence through a highly distinctive visual idiom.

    It was while serving a three-year prison sentence for breaking and entering in his late teens that books on Van Gogh, Rembrandt and El Greco inspired him to start drawing, something his uncle had introduced him to as a young child. After being released, Young found inspiration in the Chicago and Detroit anti-Vietnam War murals he had seen on the TV news and began painting. As Young said in interviews with William Arnett and Larry Clemons in 1994 and 1995: “I been drawing all my life, but I taught myself to paint in the early seventies. I seen people protesting. I seen the war going on. Then I found out how these guys paint their feelings up North, paint on walls… I started out about 1971 in Goodbread Alley. I wanted to express my own feeling. I wanted the peoples to see it.” Young began creating paintings on reclaimed wood and nailing them on boarded storefronts in Goodbread Alley, eventually attracting the attention of the collector and Miami Art Museum founder Bernard Davis who brought Young to the wider public eye.

    While channelling Western art history, as William Arnett wrote, “all the imagery…is filtered through Purvis Young's sensibilities, and the result is a style that is remarkably consistent over three decades. It is a resolute and ambitious vision from a man who has appointed himself Overtown's resident historian…He searches for truth and accuracy, so that his own art will not misinform or mislead. Young's paintings are more than paintings. They are assemblages made from an array of urban detritus carefully selected by the artist according to his sense of their aesthetic and philosophical compatibility…The art of Purvis Young is equal parts calligraphy, music, and graffiti. Its basic themes bump, collide, and eventually unite to reveal the chaotic and cacophonous dance of birth, death, and all that transpires in between in the artist's world.”



signed "Young" upper right
mixed media
26 x 54 7/8 in. (66 x 139.4 cm.)
Executed circa 1990s.

Estimate On Request


New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019