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Purvis Young

Visual Artist

Purvis Young

1943-2010
Inducted in 2018

Biography

Born in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, visual artist Purvis Young is most associated with the Overtown neighborhood where he settled in the 1960s. A major figure in the world of “Outsider Art,” his work may be found in the collections of the American Folk Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as Overtown’s Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, among many others.
 
A prolific creator, Young served three years in prison as a teenager, where he began drawing and studying art books from the prison library. “I didn’t have nothing going for myself,” he said. “That’s the onliest thing I could mostly do. I was just looking through art books, looking at guys painting their feelings.”
 
His work, highly influenced by Western art history, is colorful and vibrant, often serving as social critique and a call to action for social justice. Young painted and drew on a multiplicity of objects including found wood, discarded cardboard, doors, old utility bills, and printed pages from books. His installation Good Bread Alley consisted of multiple works affixed to the walls of a vacant alley in Overtown. Artworks were often sold or removed, then replaced with new works, and the installation/mural soon attracted the attention of the media and Bernard Davis, owner of the Miami Art Museum, who became an early patron, providing art supplies to the artist.