Leslie Lovell, Savannah GA

Purvis Young (1943-2010) - Folk Art

Purvis Young is a self-taught artist infamous for his powerful, urban impressionistic paintings of inner city life and conflict. Much of his works are a blend of collage and painting often utilizing found objects. Angels, wild horses, funerals, pregnant women, railroad tracks, boats and squiggly figures prevail throughout his work; scenes of social unrest, a reflection of his daily life in the city, is a common theme of Young’s. He said “God didn’t put me on earth to say much, he put me here to paint.”

Young began painting and drawing in prison in the 60s for armed robbery. There he had a vision that this was not meant to be his life and the angels were going to create a new path for him.

“I paint from reality. I paint problems of the world. And sometimes I get to myself and cry,” said Young in the documentary, Purvis of Overtown.

He lived in Overtown, a neglected area of Miami, known as “Blood Alley”. Using the area as his studio, he gained early recognition in the 70s when he created a mural using hundreds of panels nailed to dilapidated buildings called Goodbread Alley, inspired by Chicago’s Wall of Respect.

Purvis did not attend high school but learned a lot about art through the public library. His work was influenced by Rembrandt, El Greco, van Gogh and Delacroix.

His works of art on all sorts of debris are highly collected and hang in the Smithsonian, private collection, and many galleries.

Artworks by Purvis Young (1943-2010) - Folk Art