Purvis Young, who in the later years of his life rose from poverty and obscurity to become one of Miami's most well-known and respected artists, has died today at the age of 67 from cardiac arrest following a battle with diabetes that had left him in a wheel chair.
Young lived and worked in Overtown, and began painting after serving a prison term for breaking and entering and realizing his true purpose in life. Unable to regularly obtain canvases, Young used found items like old doors and discarded lumber. His simple but expressive works, often classified as outsider art, captured the strife of Overtown, poverty, crime and racial strain as well as hope and religion. In recent years Young's work had been championed by the Rubell Family Collection and his life story was chronicled in a feature-length documentary Purvis of Overtown.
"Purvis Young was a true and consummate artist who lived entirely for his art. He leaves behind a colossal body of work which has already given pleasure to countless people who have seen it in the over sixty museums in in which his vibrant expressionistic paintings have been shown. Purvis Young will live on through his paintings and in the memory of his friends and myriad collectors," reads a tribute on his website
To get a deeper understanding of what Young's art meant check out these stories from the New Times
- From Outsider to Insider: For years self-taught artist Purvis Young was financially exploited. Those days are over now, by Judy Cantor Thursday, May 20 1999
- Art & Soul, by Judy Cantor Thursday, Oct 26 1995
- Color Him Pissed:
Purvis Young's paintings brush off scheming politicians, by Carlos Suarez De Jesus Thursday, Jun 12 2008
- Overtown's Own:
Purvis Young gets mad props at FLIFF, by Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik Thursday, Feb 8 2007
- Purvis Young in Vogue with Morgan Freeman and Lara Stone
By Kyle Munzenrieder, May 26, 2008