Mose Tolliver


House paint on board
Purchased from the artist at his home
in Montgomery, Alabama
32”h x 24″w

Mose Tolliver
(b. 1918-2006)
Born into a large sharecropping family outside Montgomery, Alabama sometime between 1915 and 1920, “Mose T.”as he signed his paintings, like so many self-taught American artists, only enjoyed enough leisure time to pursue his artistic practice once he could no longer work. Early employment as a tenant farmer and gardener allowed him to support his own growing family, but an ill-fated job for a furniture factory in the late 1960’s resulted in his legs being crushed by a slab of marble. Perhaps on a whim, perhaps motivated by a local art exhibition, perhaps on the suggestion of a friend, Tolliver began painting, ending a period of inertia, depression, and drinking. Engaging in the great Southern African American tradition of yard art, he began displaying his paintings outside his Montgomery home, initially offering them for sale at one dollar each.

It all changed quickly once his work joined the illustrious ranks of the 1982 “Black Folk Art in America” exhibition in Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery. Tolliver continued to work with house paint on plywood, exploring similar subjects, but due to intense interest from art collectors, he needed to enlist the help of his daughter Annie who collaborated on many of her father’s works.