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PURVIS YOUNG
(1943-2010)

Purvis Young (February 4, 1943 – April 20, 2010) was an American artist from the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Young's work, often a blend of collage and painting, utilizes found objects and the experience of African Americans in the south. A self-taught artist, Young gained recognition as a cult contemporary self-taught artist, with a collectors' following including the likes of Jane Fonda, Damon Wayans, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, among others. In 2006 a feature documentary entitled Purvis of Overtown was produced about his life and work. His work is found in the collections of the American Folk Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others.

As a teenager Young served three years (1961–64) in prison at North Florida's Raiford State Penitentiary for breaking and entering. While in prison he would regain his interest in art and began drawing and studying art books. When released, he began to produce thousands of small drawings, which he kept in shopping carts and later glued into discarded books and magazines that he found on the streets. He proceeded to move into the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. Young found himself attracted to a vacant alley called Goodbread Alley, which was named after the Jamaican bakeries that once occupied the street; he would start living there in 1971.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s he began exploring other inspirations by watching historical documentaries about war, the Great Depression, commerce, and Native American conflicts and struggles in the United States. In 1999 the Rubell family, notable art collectors from New York,purchased the entire content of Young's studio, a collection of almost 3,000 pieces. In 2008 the Rubells donated 108 works to Morehouse College.

Young suffered from diabetes, and towards the latter years of his life he had other health problems, undergoing a kidney transplant in 2007. Purvis Young died on April 20, 2010, in Miami, from cardiac arrest and pulmonary edema. He is survived by his partner Eddie Mae Lovest; his two sisters Betty Rodriguez and Shirley Byrd; a brother, Irvin Byrd; four stepdaughters and 13 step-children.

Miami, Florida

Angels Helping Man (circa 1980)
Marker on paper (8 1/2"x10")
Playin hoops (circa 1980)
Marker on paper (8 1/2"x10")
aaWarriors Horses (circa 1990)
aaAcrylic on wood panel (12x12)