Purvis Young


Horses are Free
Paint on paper.
25.5″ x 19.5″
Acquired directly from artist, donated from Larry
Clemons from the American Folk Art Museum.


Purvis Young

Purvis Young was born in Liberty City, Florida in 1943. His Miami neighborhood, Overtown, was partially razed by the creation of Interstate 95, and became a poverty-stricken, violence-ridden and derelict area. Young was a product of this environment, and eventually spent three years in Raiford State Penitentary (1961-4) for a breaking and entering charge. After he was released, Young turned a corner and wanted to uplift his community. He substituted a lack of formal education with intensive reading and became proficient in the history of art. After learning of the “Freedom Walls” created by artists in Detroit and Chicago, Young decided to create his own in 1972. He applied his personal world views to the medium of paint and collage of found materials, creating a visual language with a mural located at the intersection of Northwest third and 14th street in Overtown, coined “Good Bread Alley”. The mural was eventually disassembled but Young continued his prolific work, using modern African American motifs with images from his African heritage. His work reflects a strong sense of place and history. His murals and paintings express his true feelings about the life that surrounded him. His pieces have great movement and, although sometimes abstract, convey the urban expressionism of his environment.
Purvis Young died in 2010 from diabetes. He has become highly-regarded for his artistry, and is represented in the collections of The Newark Museum, The New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Studio Museum of Harlem.