Image-empty-state.png

Bill Traylor

Biography
Video

Bill Traylor was an American painter and one of the most celebrated Outsider artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. With his unique figurative style, Traylor depicted a lost era of the rural agrarian Southern United States and African-American life. He was born into slavery and developed outside of any artistic training, with the exception of the encouragement of a young artist named Charles Shannon, who provided Traylor with materials. Traylor’s works use a pictograph-like lexicon of symbols to tell open-ended stories replete with animals, plants, and people that are prized today for their innovative aesthetic form and documentation of oppression in the Deep South. Born in April of 1853 in Benton, AL, Traylor spent most of his life as an emancipated sharecropper before moving to the city of Montgomery in Alabama in the late 1930s, where he began drawing and painting scenes culled from his memories. He died on October 23, 1949 in Montgomery, AL. Today, the artist's works are held in the collections of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Milwaukee Art Museum, among others.