Our Final Great and Mighty Artist of the Day:
Born Miami, 1943; died Miami, 2010
Purvis Young lived in Overtown, a once thriving, historically black neighborhood in Miami that was decimated by urban renewal and highway construction in the 1960s. He never attended high school and in his late teens was convicted of breaking and entering, spending three years in a Florida jail. There he began to read and draw. He was particularly inspired by reproductions of urban murals in cities like Chicago.
Upon his release Young began his own mural project at a spot in Overtown called Goodbread Alley, hanging dozens of his paintings edge to edge along a dilapidated stretch of the street. His paintings address issues of racism, poverty, suffering, communal redemption, and hope for salvation. In 1972, the Miami Museum of Modern Art gave Young his first exhibition. Subsequently the artist’s work became well known and widely collected throughout the United States.
Image 1: Purvis Young in Goodbread Alley, early 1970s. Courtesy Larry Clemons and Gallery 721, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Image 2: “Jail Was Heat,” date unknown, © Estate of Purvis Young
Image 3: "Ship and Floating Figures," date unkown. © Estate of Purvis Young
Learn more about Young and the 26 other artists in “Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, CLOSING this Sunday, June 9!