Mose Tolliver - Outside/Folk Art
Celebrated folk artist Mose Ernest Tolliver (ca. 1920-2006) is one of the most influential painters in the field of Southern self-taught art. His vibrant and colorful pieces often depicted fruits, vegetables, animals, and people. He always signed "Mose T" with a backward 's'. His style fluctuated between the simplistic and pastoral to the abstract and erotic.
Tolliver was born one of 12 children to sharecroppers in Montgomery, Alabama. During the late 1960s, after a severe injury (his legs were crushed when a load of marble shifted and fell from a forklift as he was sweeping in the furniture factory), he turned to painting to combat boredom and long hours of idle time. He regularly worked with house paint on wood.
He began selling his art in the 1960s. He hung pieces in the yard and considered them done when someone bought one. After his work was featured in a landmark exhibition of Black American Folk Art in Washington, D.C. he became recognized as one of the most significant folk painters in America. Collectors from far and wide began seeking out his work.
Tolliver was likely dyslexic, which may have encouraged his artistic efforts by limiting his reading and writing abilities. He would often turn his paintings upside-down and paint the picture of perhaps an animal and landscape positioned from various directions.
His work has been exhibited in a number of museums including the Smithsonian in D.C., American Folk Art Museum in New York, High Museum in Atlanta, and the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.