Artist: Purvis Young
Title: Untitled (Insect Prison)
Medium: Oil painting on paper
Size: 22" x 29"
Condition: In the style of found art with an intentionally weathered appearance. Expected imperfections include heavy creasing, unfinished edges, and marks
Documentation: Includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the Purvis Young Foundation
This Untitled Purvis Young work combines two often seen symbols: the grid and the insect. Symbolizing a cage, the grid is often intended to represent either literal or figurative incarceration. Purvis Young spent time in prison himself and saw how much the prison system impact his community of Overtown, Miami. Beyond his personal experience, Young often uses his art as a tool to analyze the black experience in America.
Insects were scarce in Young's early work, but they began to show up in paintings more frequently in the 1990s. The insects are often featured in nightmarish scenes, portrayed as human-sized creatures battling people or laying waste to cities. The combination of these two symbols is curious. Young frequently depicts innocent symbols imprisoned, including pregnant women, angels, or animals. This depiction of a typically unfavorable symbol imprisoned can either be interpreted as a desire to imprison the villains of our world or an exploration of the complexity of the modern-day American prison system.
Intentionally weathered, this untitled Purvis Young painting on paper has the type of imperfections you'd expect from found street art, including heavy creasing, unfinished edges, and markings. This piece is currently unframed but can be framed to your liking for an additional cost. This original painting is signed "Young" on the front side and includes a certificate of authenticity from the Purvis Young Foundation.
This piece is currently not framed. The photo showing the frame is a mockup of a frame and what it would look like framed. If you would like the piece framed we can work with our local framer at our discounted price to pick out the perfect frame for your home.
About Purvis Young
Self-taught artist from a poverty stricken neighborhood of Miami, Purvis Young transformed his fraught yet inspired life experience into a unique and compelling visual vocabulary. Through a range of powerful symbols, he articulated the struggles and myths of his heritage.
Drawing from a range of sources such as documentaries, art books, American history and spiritual folklore, Young crafted an immense visual language comprised of motifs such as white horses offering freedom, halos signifying angles, pregnant women with the hope of tomorrow, processions and incarceration, among others. Telling simple, yet powerful stories of everyday life, the artist expressed his community and ethnic background. Using found objects from his neighborhood, such as cardboard, discarded political signs, used paper, doors, plywood scraps, metal sheets, carpet remnants, he transformed these surfaces into richly colored and highly expressionist paintings. Although Young is often associated with Outsider Art, his style could best be described as "Magic realism".
In 2016, his life and work were the subject of a feature documentary entitled Purvis of Overtown. He was a recipient of the Artists/Fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and was included into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame in 2018. 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, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others.
The subjects of Purvis Young celebrated and historicized the neighborhood where he had spent his entire life. Even though his works chronicled struggle, they always contained an underlining hope for a better future.
Purvis Young was born in 1943 in Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida and died in 2010 in Miami. In 2015, almost 400 pieces of Young’s art were donated by The Bass Museum of Art to the permanent collection in the Black Archives History and research Foundation of South Florida located in the heart of Purvis’ hometown.