Artist Profile – Purvis Young

Purvis Young

1943-2010, lived and worked in Miami, Florida

(detail): Purvis Young / Untitled (Angels Playing Music for the City) / c. 1990s / Housepaint on wood / 48 x 74 in. / Collection of Gordon W. Bailey

Born in Liberty City, Miami, in 1943, painter Purvis Young is intimately linked to Overtown, another Miami neighborhood that provided inspiration, raw material, and audience for his constructed paintings. A deep-seated sense of place and of history suffuses Young’s ecstatic, rhythmic surfaces; his story is likewise the story of his community. Overtown remains a poverty-stricken, violence-prone, and largely derelict area to this day, but the art world attention paid to Young’s work has helped with the area’s recent renewal efforts.

A three-year stint in North Florida’s Raiford State Penitentiary (1961–64) for breaking and entering brought Young’s youthful career in petty crime and pool hustling to a close, and the artist determined to help, rather than hurt, his community going forward. During long hours at the Overtown Public Library, he pored over art history books and images of murals in Northern inner cities. His own vision of community uplift and beautification began with a large-scale public mural on Good Bread Alley in Overtown. The work was eventually disassembled and destroyed, but Young continued his prolific practice, piecing together salvaged wood, metal, and other materials as canvasses. Examining motifs of both modern African-American history and a more distant African heritage, Young used house paint, gathering his trademark galloping horses, dancing silhouettes, mask-like faces, and portraits of jazz musicians onto electric, multihued compositions. Improvisatory movement and a documentary impulse––however abstract in execution––remained central preoccupations of this self-styled “urban expressionist.”

Bibliography

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Purvis Young Bibliography

1. Monographs and Catalogues
Plasket, Kenneth. Purvis Young. Dania, FL: Skot Foreman Fine Art, Ltd., 2000.
Purvis Young. Los Angeles, CA: Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1993.
Purvis Young. Joy Moos Gallery, Inc. Miami, FL, 1993.
Purvis Young: Paintings from the Street. Boca Raton, FL: Boca Raton Museum of Art, 2006.
Tresobares, Ceasar. Purvis Young/Me and My Mink. New York, NY: Artists Space, 1988.
Foreman, Skot. Purvis Young: Possession. Dania, FL: Skot Foreman Fine Art, Ltd., 2001.

2. Books and Catalogues that Include Young
Arnett, William, Paul Arnett, and Lowery Sims. Souls Grown Deep Vol. 2: African American Vernacular Art. Atlanta, GA: Tinwood Books, 2001.
Conwill, Kinshasha, and Arthur C. Danto. Testimony: Vernacular Art of the African-American South: The Ronald and June Shelp Collection. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001.
Crown, Carol. Coming Home! Self-Taught Artists, the Bible, and the American South. Jackson, MS: The University Press of Mississippi/The Art Museum of the University of Memphis, 2004.
Danto, Arthur C.; Elsa Weiner Longhauser, Jane Kallir, Michael D. Hall, Harald Szeemann, and Lee Kogan. Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century: An American Anthology. New York: Museum of American Folk Art, 1999.
Delehanty, Randolph. Art in the American South: Works from the Ogden Collection. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
Everett, Gwen. African American Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2003.
Fine, Gary Alan. Everyday Genius: Self-Taught Art and the Culture of Authenticity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Gordon, Ellin, and Barbara R. Luck. and Tom Patterson. Flying Free: Twentieth-Century Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Ellin and Baron Gordon. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
Hartigan, Lynda Roscoe. African-American Art: 19th and 20th-Century Selections. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1995.
Laffal, Florence and Julius. American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends With 1,319 Capsule Biographies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2003.
Maresca, Frank, and Roger Ricco. American Self-Taught: Paintings and Drawings by Outsider Artists. New York: Alfred a Knopf, 1993.
Monroe, Gary. Extraordinary Interpretations: Florida’s self-taught artists. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2003.
Patterson, Tom. Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum Series). New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2001.
Spriggs, Lynne E and Joanne Cubbs, Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, Susan Mitchell Crawley, Michael E. Shapiro, Peter Harholdt. Let It Shine: Self-Taught Art From The T. Marshall Hahn Collection. Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2001.
Trechsel, Gail Andrews. Pictured in My Mind: Contemporary American Self-taught Art from the Collection of Kurt Gitter and Alice Rae Yelen. Birmingham: Birmingham Museum of Art, 1996.
Yelen, Alice Rae. Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present. New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Museum of Art, distributed by University Press of Mississippi, 1993.

3. Articles
Becker, Robert. “Art: Urban Renewal. Creating a Scene.” Andy Warhol’s Interview, Vol. 16 (XVI), no. 9, September 1986.
Bennett, Lennie. “Museum Gets 91- Painting Gift.” St. Petersburg Times, August 3, 2005.
Feinstein, Roni. “Report from Miami: Part II – Miami Heats Up.” Art in America, November 1999, pp 58-59.
Fox, Catherine. “Forever Young. A self-taught colorist shows expressionistic energy.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 14, 2003.
Gonzalez, Fernando. “Local artist is no longer an ‘outsider’,” The [Miami] Herald, May 13, 1999, pp.1E, E4.
Hay, David. “Art/Architecture: The Scene Heats Up Under the Miami Sun.” The New York Times, February 27, 2000.
Hersh, Allison. “Purvis Young and Ricardo Manuel Díaz offer a darker, deeper vision of folk art.” Savannah Morning News, April 23, 2005. (review)
Husband, Bertha. “A Fine Dividing Line – Purvis Young & Ricardo Manuel Diaz at the Hurn Museum.” Connect Savannah, April 20, 2005.
Hartigan, Lynda Roscoe. “Going Urban: American Folk Art and the Great Migration.” American Art magazine [Smithsonian American Art Museum] Vol. 14, No. 2, Summer, 2000, pp. 26-51.
Moreno, Gean. “Purvis Young’s Predicament.” Raw Vision: International Journal of Intuitive & Visionary Art. London: Raw Vision Ltd, vol. 36, Winter 2000/2001.
Pau-Llosa, Ricardo. “Miami: Glass Dragonfly,” Art International, Vol.1, No.5, Winter 1988.
Sanders, Vicki. “Like Rembrandt, I’m Walking Among the People,” The Miami Herald, February 2, 1983.
Shepherd, Lindy T. “Purvis of Overtown, directed by Shaun Conrad and David Raccuglia” in “Florida Film Festival Reviews” Orlando Weekly, March 23, 2006
Smith, Roberta. “Art in Review: ‘The Outsider Art Fair’ The Puck Building Lafayette and Houston Streets SoHo Through Sunday,” The New York Times, January 28, 1994.
Turner, Elisa. “Miami: Purvis Young” ARTnews, December 1987.

4. Film
Raccuglia, David and Shaun Conrad. “Purvis of Overtown.” Tinwood Media, 2007.

5. Solo Exhibitions
Purvis Young. Miami Museum of Modern Art, Miami, FL, 1972.
Purvis Young. Miami-Dade Community College North Campus, Miami, FL, 1973.
Purvis Young. Miami-Dade Public Library System, Miami-Dade Public Library, Miami Branch Branch, Miami Branch, FL, 1981.
Purvis Young: Books. Miami-Dade Public Library System, Miami, FL, 1983.
Burnt Toast, Joy Moos Gallery, Miami, FL, 1985.
Transculture Transmedia, Exit Art, New York City, NY, 1986.
Purvis Young Recent Works, Artifacts Art Salon, Miami, FL, 1986.
Purvis Young, Greene Gallery, Coral Gables, FL, 1987.
Purvis Young: Books & Paintings, Miami-Dade Public Library, Homestead Branch, Homestead, FL, 1987.
A Separate Reality: Florida Eccentrics, Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1987; Valencia Community College, East Campus and Performing Arts Center Galleries, Orlando, FL, 1987.
Purvis Young, Joy Moos Gallery, Miami, FL, 1988.
Purvis Young: Me and My Mink, Artists Space, New York City, NY, 1988.
Purvis Young: Books & Paintings, Miami-Dade Public Library, Miami Lakes Branch, Miami Lakes, FL, 1988.
Purvis Young, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York City, NY, 1991.
Purvis Young: Paintings, Books, Sculptures, Joy Moos Gallery, Miami, FL, 1991.
Purvis Young, Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Germany, 1992.
Purvis Young Works of Paper (The Books), Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York City, NY, 1992.
Purvis Young, Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris, France, 1993.
Purvis Young: Art and Real Life, Gallery 721, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1993.
New Works, Galerie Moos, Toronto, Canada, 1993.
Purvis Young, Edward Thorpe Gallery, New York City, NY, 1993.
Purvis Young, Ann Nathan Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1993.
Street Vision: The Works of Purvis Young, Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL, 1993.
Purvis Young: From the Street, Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL, 1993.
Purvis Young: Books and Works on Paper, Janet Fleisher Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1994.
Purvis Young: Paintings, American Primitive Gallery, New York City, NY , 1996.
Purvis Young: Paintings, Drawings, Constructions and Books, Janet Fleisher Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1996.
Purvis Young-The Streets of Overtown: Paintings on paper and scraps, Armory Art Gallery, Department of Art and Art History, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, 1997.
Flying Free: Twentieth-Century Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Ellin and Baron Gordon, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, VA, 1997.
Purvis Young: Paintings, Pelegro Gallery, New Orleans, LA, 1997. 
Purvis Young: Paintings, Leslie Muth Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, 1997.
Purvis Young: Painting the Blues, Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH, 1998.
Purvis Young, Skot Foreman Fine Arts, Ltd., Dania Beach, FL, 1998.
Purvis Young, Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH, 1999.
Purvis Young: Walking Among the Peoples, Museum of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, FL, 1999.
Purvis Young, Frederic Snitzer Gallery, Miami, FL, 1999.
Purvis Young at Kunst Koln, Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Germany, 2000.
Let It Shine: Self-Taught Art from The T. Marshall Hahn Collection, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, 2001.
Purvis Young: The Life I See, Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL, 2002.
Recent Work: Purvis Young, Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami, FL, 2002.
Young at 60, Paintings and Drawings by Purvis Young, Miami-Dade Public Library, Main Library, Miami, FL, 2003.
At 60: The Art of Purvis Young, Skot Foreman Fine Art, Atlanta, GA, 2003.
Purvis Young: Art and Real Life, Gallery 721, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2003.
Purvis Young: Artists’ Books from the Permanent Collection Featuring the Work of Purvis Young, Miami-Dade Public Library, Main Library, Miami, FL, 2003.
Purvis Young: From the Rubell Family Collection, The von Liebig Art Center, Naples, FL, 2004.
Purvis Young Urban Painter Retrospective 1969-2004, Hurn Museum of Contemporary Folk Art, Savannah, GA, 2005.
The Mind of Young: Sketchbooks and Artist’s Books by Purvis Young and Works from the Permanent Collection, Miami-Dade Public Library, West Dade Regional Library, Miami, FL, 2006.
Purvis Young: Paintings from the Street, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL, 2006.
Painted Protests, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL, 2007.
Mixed Signals, Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York, NY, 2007.
30 Americans, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, 2008.
Protest: Purvis Young, GalleryBar, New York, NY, 2008.
Hexagone (a hex is gone), MAS-Miami Art Space, Miami, FL, 2008.
Same Sweet Dream, Dieu Donné, New York, NY, 2009.
Purvis Young + Grown and Sewn, New York, NY, 2010.
The Faces of Young: The Purvis Young Art Exhibit, Cheyney University, Reading, PA, 2011.
6. Selected Group Exhibitions
Contemporary Black Art: A Selected Sampling. Florida International University Art Gallery, Miami, FL, 1977.
Book Exhibition. Katherine Markel, New York City, NY, 1984.
Get Fresh, Joy Moos Gallery, Miami, FL, 1984.
Three From Miami: Carlos Alfonzo, Deborah Schneider, Purvis Young, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL, 1988.
Sam Doyle, William Hawkins, Purvis Young, Edward Thorpe Gallery, New York City, NY, 1992.
Passionate Views of the American South: Self Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, 1994; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL, 1995.
The Outside Eye: Contemporary Art of the South, from the Collection of George Lowe, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL, 1995.
Rare Visions: Works by Expressionist and Self-Taught Artists, Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL, 1995.
Contemporary Folk Art: A View from the Outside, Nathan D. Rosen Museum Gallery, Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, Boca Raton, FL, 1995.
Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art of the South – The Arnett Collection, Emory University Museum, Atlanta City Hall East for the 100th Cultural Olympiad, Atlanta, GA, 1996.
Wrestling With History: Selections from the Shelp Collection, Sidney Myhkin Gallery, Bernard Baruch College of The City University of New York, New York City, NY, 1996.
Naives, Seers, Lone Wolves & World Savers VIII, Dean Jensen gallery, Milwaukee, WI, 1996.
Pictured in My Mind: Contemporary American Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Dr. Kurt Gitter and Alice Rae Yelen, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL, 1996; DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, 1997.
Bearing Witness: African-American Vernacular Art of the South, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY, 1997.
Self Taught Artists of the 20th Century: An American Anthology, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1998; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, 1998; The Amon Carter Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, 1998. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 1999 ;Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 1999; Museum of American Folk Art, New York, NY, 1999.
African American Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL, 2000; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA, 2001; The Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, FL, 2001.
New York Historical Society, New York, NY, 2003; Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN, 2003; The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, FL, 2003.
Urban Outsider and Visionary Folk: The Works of Purvis Young and Minnie Evans, Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2002.
Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, 2002.
Outside/In: American Self-Taught Art from the Mennello Museum of American Folk and the City of Orlando Folk Art Collection, The von Liebig Art Center, Naples, FL, 2004.
African American Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH, 2004; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, 2004; The Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE, 2004; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA, 2004, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT, 2005; Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Atlanta, GA, 2005.
Rock Paper Scissors: American Collage Now, The Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 2005.
At This Time: Ten Miami Artists, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, 2005.
Miami in Transition, Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL, 2006.

7. Public Collections
American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
The Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, VA
Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
City of Orlando Public Art Collection, Orlando, FL
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Fayette Art Museum, Fayette, AL
Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta, GA
The Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Virginia
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hurn Museum of Contemporary Folk Art, Savannah, GA
Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY
Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
The Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando, FL
Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL Miami-Dade Public Library, Miami, FL
The Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA
Motorola Corporation, USA Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL
The Museum for Biblical Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Naples Art Association, Naples, FL,
The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL
Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, IL
Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL
Sackner Archives, University of Oregon, Portland, OR
Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Studio Museum of Harlem, New York, NY
Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

8. Sold/Carried by (galleries)
Fleisher Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami, FL
Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Germany
Gallery 721, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Greene Gallery, Coral Gables, FL
Joy Moos Gallery, Miami, FL
Leslie Muth Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Pelegro Gallery, New Orleans, LA

Compiled by Samantha Mitchell

Artist’s Work