Purvis Young was an American artist. One of South Florida’s most celebrated artists, his life story was captured in the 2006 feature length documentary film, Purvis of Overtown.
Young was born in Liberty City, Miami, Florida and lived in Overtown, Miami, Florida. A self-taught artist, Young communicated a social message with his work, depicting poverty, crime and other social issues of his hometown community of Overtown. He painted on discarded objects as his canvases, including doors, cardboard, and pieces of wood. Young often stated that he turned his life around through art, after serving a prison term for breaking and entering in the mid- 1960s. He died at the age of 67 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami from cardiac arrest. Young lived in a nursing home and used a wheelchair in his final years, the result of an extended struggle with diabetes.
Young’s works are in many museum collections, including those of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, FL and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. In addition, Young’s art have been regularly been shown at galleries, primarily in Miami and southern Florida, such as in a 1972 installation at the Miami Museum of Modern Art, but also nationwide, from exhibitions at the Springfield (Ohio) Museum of Art (1999) to the art museum of the University of Memphis (2004), as well as in commercial galleries from New York City to Cologne, Germany.