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PURVIS YOUNG (1943 - 2010)
Purvis Young was born in Liberty City in 1943 and grew up in what was derisively known in his youth as “Colored Town”, and now called Overtown. It was a time of segregation, discrimination and the rule of “Jim Crow” in south Florida, and Purvis grew up with few prospects for achieving anything like the “American Dream” in his lifetime. He dropped out of all-black Booker T. Washington High School after 10th grade, and by age 18 was serving four years of hard time at Raiford State Prison for burglary. Prison, however, brought him back to drawing, and when he returned to the streets of Overtown in the early 1960s he was eager to express himself through art. Inspired by the 1967 Chicago protest mural, the “Wall of Respect”, Purvis created his own vast assemblage on the walls of vacated bakery buildings along 14th Street and NW 3rd Avenue, known as “Goodbread Alley.” His paintings of heartfelt simplicity, bold color, power and symbolism soon attracted the attention of major Miami art collectors. Over the next 40 years he became known as one of America’s premier self-taught vernacular artists.
Purvis painted and drew constantly. His work reflected the despair and injustice of the urban and immigrant poor in Miami, as well as the larger national issues of the time – the Vietnam War, urban riots, police brutality the vast influx of refugees from all parts of the world. Despite the hard times, Purvis also reflected hope and redemption in his paintings – angels, saints, freedom horses and the promise of new life. The work is simple and sometimes even brutal, but few who see it can fail to be moved.
ABOUT THE SANJUAN-BROWN COLLECTION
The Sanjuan-Brown Collection originally comprised over 80 original works by Purvis Young created from the late 1970s through the end of the twentieth century. The collection was acquired from Young’s friend and dealer, Larry Clemons, in early 2013. Clemons had provided Purvis Young with studio space, storage and occasional living quarters during the first decade of this century, and was helpful the artist as he navigated his way through increasing fame and inevitable sharks and scams of the art world. We are indebted to Larry Clemons for his interest in safeguarding works by Purvis Young and for his interest in the man himself. Larry sold us a large portion of his Purvis Young collection before moving to Panama City in 2014. His love of the art world was legendary. Sadly, Larry passed away in 2020 at the age of 62.
About 36 works from the original collection remain unsold. Over the past 7 years, we have sold 42 original Purvis Young paintings to collectors and galleries around the world. Keeping true to our personal mission to improve access to great contemporary art by providing opportunities for others to own and develop their own collections, we believe we have priced the works economically. We want more art collectors in the world, not fewer.
Over the last 40 years (and almost a decade since his death in 2010), Purvis Young has become known as one of America’s premier self-taught vernacular artists. His work can be seen in nearly 60 public galleries and museums, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian African American History and Culture Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in and the American Folk Art Museum in New York, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC, the Perez Art Museum and the Frost Museum of Art in Miami, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Boca Raton Museum of Art, among others. His has been featured in more than 125 solo and group exhibitions throughout the nation and in Europe, most recently in a huge retrospective sponsored by the renowned Rubell Family Collection.