Born into slavery in 1854 on a plantation near Montgomery, Bill Traylor began making art at the age of 82. His works are notable for their flat and simply defined shapes and vibrant compositions, in which memories, folk legends and observations relating to African American life are merged. The power and originality of his art was recognized in 1940 by painter Charles Shannon, who arranged for a solo exhibition of his work at an art center in Montgomery. Over the years, Shannon purchased hundreds of works from Traylor and kept them in storage because of the lack of interest in the art world. In 1979, Shannon arranged for a show in a New York gallery and in 1982, Traylor’s art was included in the Corcoran Gallery’s Black Folk Art in America. Today, Traylor is recognized as one of the finest American artists of the 20th century.
Untitled [Black Elephant with a Brown Ear]
ca. 1939-40 •
Untitled [man, woman]
ca. 1940-42 •