Artist: Purvis Young
Title: Spirit Dancers
Medium: Paint on canvas, framed
Image Size: 22" x 40"
Frame Size: 28 1/2" x 46"
Inscription: Signed on front top
Condition: In the style of found art with an intentionally weathered appearance. Expected imperfections include heavy creasing, unfinished edges, and marks and staining on the back.
Documentation: Includes Certificate of Authenticity from the Purvis Young Foundation
"Spirit Dancers" stands apart from Purvis Young's typical artwork in several ways. The bold, saturated colors are a distinct departure from his usual muted earth tones and the geometric background structure offers a structural pattern vastly different from the abstract, free-flowing lines which are more typical of his body of work. Despite these distinctions, "Spirit Dancers" retains several quintessential elements of Young's art, including his distinctive figures and intentionally weathered canvas.
Young is an impressive storyteller, using every tool available to him to share his narrative. The themes in his art highlight important values and share everyday stories of his community. The stories Young shares can be frought with difficulty, from growing up in segregated and violent neighborhoods to navigating the art world as a perceived outsider, but they always include an idea of hope.
Purvis Young's original framed painting on canvas "Spirit Dancers" is signed by the artist and includes a certificate of authenticity from the Purvis Young Foundation.
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.