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 Purvis Young  (1943 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: Florida      Known for: mod naive urban views, installation

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Ad Code: 3
Purvis Young
from Auction House Records.
Mary and Jesus
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The work of the urban black vernacular artist, Purvis Young, has roots in the dreamy fields of high art subject matter-evoking Picasso in its riders, its elegant horses, its nudes.  At the same time it is filled with the energy and syncretism of the world's vanguard-American urban Black culture.  It is to "outsider art" what be bop is to the blues.  The subject matter rides on a thick layer of color, attention, choice, free-swinging composition that refers to a thousand years of composition before it.

Young lives and works in Overtown, a neighborhood in Miami cut off by the highway overpasses that loom over it.  He is "of the community, but is also, now, of the larger art world as well."  He has researched art history avidly and has seen what other artists have done, spending years in the libraries that have supported his work. He has chosen his imagery out of Overtown and his own life, and out of the resonances of the past as well.

Young's choices of materials-the discarded boards he uses to paint on and to "frame" works; the fragments of text, the use of books to mount the works-are not made by happenstance, though early on they may have been the fruit of necessity.  Now these are elements of meaning.  Now they insist on the presence of the street, full of stuff, humanity, words, scraps, full of the exchanges that create the most exciting cultural milieu in the world, creative, tragic, excessive, beautiful, wasteful.
- Ann Klefstad

Skot Foreman Fine Art, Ltd.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Although Purvis Young enjoyed painting as a child it wasn't until after having been imprisoned as a young man, that he took up drawing again.  Purvis was inspired by the urban murals of Chicago and Detroit and painting became a way to express his anger and frustration.  He wanted to paint the stories of his own neighborhood.

His first public art in the early 70s was the Goodbread Alley project.  The art consisted of hundreds of pictures hung on boarded up buildings along Fourteenth Street in Overton, his Miami neighborhood.  The heart of the neighborhood had been destroyed when I-395 was routed through the community.  Through art Purvis Young has continued to channel his anger at the injustices of our society.

Purvis Young's style is naive, expressionist and symbolic.  He continues to be a prolific painter motivated by the need to express his views of social injustice.

Art in America
, January 2003

Biography from Outsider Folk Art Gallery:
Purvis Young has substituted a lack of formal education with intensive reading and study and is sophisticated about the history of art.  He applies his personal world view to the medium of paint to create a visual language that expresses his concerns as much as it captures the life of the people and city that surround him.

After learning of the "Freedom Walls" created by artists in Detroit and Chicago, Young decided in 1972, to create his own public mural at the intersection of Northwest Third Avenue an 14th Street in Overtown, Miami's inner-city coined "Good Bread Alley." The installation was visible from the newly constructed Interstate 95, which had all but dissected and consequently isolated his community from the rest of South Florida.

Representing Young's unique view on life is a symbolic vocabulary where city street scenes move to the rhythm of life, wild horses roam free, "eyes of establishment" loom over, ancient warriors do battle, immigrant-laden boats set sail, legendary jazz and blues performers rip.  It is here that Purvis Young easily, yet effectively, expresses his true feelings.

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