Purvis Young

People in Movement in an Abstract Impressionist Style, 1980's



Oil Paint and Found Objects.


Abstract Impressionist oil painting of figures appearing to be in movement. Painting is mainly black, orange and yellow tones. Framed in a wooden frame with a black matte.

Artist Biography

Purvis Young was born on February 4, 194 in Liberty City, Miami, Florida. He died after a ten year struggle with diabetes on April 21, 2010 in Overtown, Miami, Florida. In November, 2006, he was the subject of a major retrospective at the Boca Raton Museum. In January, 2007, he was the Director’s Choice artist of Art Miami and a monumental archway of his work greeted visitors to the Miami Convention center. A steady stream of articles, publications, and solo exhibitions followed, including recent shows at the Merton D. Simpson Gallery in New York (2014), the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami (2015), and the Rubell Collection’s Thirty Americans show in Miami (2015). Purvis lived his entire life in Overtown, Miami’s black ghetto. For over thirty-five years, he painted in a series of abandoned, rat-infested warehouses. Previously a prosperous black community, Overtown was once billed as the “Harlem of the South”. In the 1960s, it was largely destroyed by the building of Highway I-95 and now has one of the highest drug-use and crime rates in Florida. Adjoining the compound where Young lives with his common law wife is an alley called “ Bucket of Blood“ with the highest incidence of murder in the greater Miami area. Interestingly, nobody bothered Purvis, the local icon. Everyone respectfully called him “Mr. Young“. In a community virtually without hope, he was the singular example of someone who “broke out“. Even though Purvis Young’s work is in over sixty museums, including the Smithsonian and the Corcoran, and innumerable collections such as the Rubell Family Collection, Purvis never thought of leaving Overtown. Because he could never afford canvas, Purvis painted on every surface available to him –- discarded plywood and cardboard, refrigerator doors, table tops, scraps of fabric and metal trays– mostly brought to him by scavengers in his neighborhood. He creatively “recycled” long before it was fashionable or profitable. Though until recently Purvis was confined to a ghetto of another sort- that of “Outsider Art “ – his highly expressionistic work can best be described as “magical realism“. His paintings are populated with angels who watch over turbulent cityscapes, faces reminiscent of an imagined Zulu past, and symbols of freedom and escape – wild horses, trucks, and the flimsy craft of Haitian boat people plowing through shark-infested waters to journey to these shores. It’s in the Overtown Library where he would one day adorn with his own murals – that he discovered Rembrandt and Van Gogh, two of his heroes.

Dimensions with Frame

H 25.75 in. x W 19.75 in. x D 1 in.