Purvis Young


paint on corkboard in poster case
36 x 24 inches

The war was going on then, war in Vietnam. That’s when all the demonstrations were going on, protests, protesters sitting in, marching. That’s when I started the figure painting, people walking along, knocking each other down, like that. My feeling was the world might be better if I put up my protests. I figured the world might get better, it might not, but it was just something I had to be doing. I make like I’m a warrior, like God sending an angel to stop war. I think, like, I’m one of the figures in my art. – Purvis Young

Self-taught, Miami-born painter Purvis Young spent his lifetime refining his expressive style of painting that covered surfaces of discarded objects. Environmentally conscious and socially aware, Young’s murals, paintings, and collages are a diverse lexicon that was continuously produced at a breakneck pace. Images of elongated figures with haloes about their heads, energetic crowds of people among towering buildings, and expressionistically wavy marks of paint on the surfaces of found objects are only a few of the themes he was attracted to. Untitled (Warriors) depicts another theme Young painted – the warrior – in its group of figures moving in unison. There is an undeniable and unified charge in the piece, a palpable energy that moves throughout Young’s greater body of work. Young is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the American Folk Art Museum, New York; the New Orleans Museum of Art; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, among others.