Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In memoriam Purvis Young

I don't ordinarily post about topics that hundreds of other people are posting about, but I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of the Miami vernacular artist Purvis Young.

109 works from the Rubell Collection were donated a couple of years ago to Morehouse College's African American Hall of Fame to form the largest permanent installation of Young's works anywhere in the world. (

Before that, Atlanta had had a unique role in Young's growing global fame: Young had done site-specific work at Mark Karelson's folk art gallery (since closed as Karelson went on to become gallery director of Mason Murer Fine Art) and been one of the major artists of the 1996 Cultural Olympiad exhibition "Souls Grown Deep," and of the two-volume work of the same title published subsequently. Skot Foreman Fine Art later exhibited Young's work extensively in Atlanta, and in New York following the gallery's relocation.

Young represented a new generation of urban vernacular artists whose work was simultaneously informed by art history and an integral part of his Overtown community.
Others will write more comprehensive obituaries and homages, but as one who wrote about Young more than once at an earlier stage of his career, I feel compelled to offer this all-too-preliminary reflection.

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