Exhibit of Art by Montgomery Native Bill Traylor Opens Today in D.C.

The Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington.

Bill Traylor,
Man in Black and Blue with Cigar and Suitcase, ca. 1939–1942
pencil and poster
paint on cardboard Collection of Jerry and Susan Lauren
Photo: Matt Flynn © SmithsonianInstitution

Montgomery native artist Bill Traylor’s work will be on exhibit starting today through March 17, 2019.

Traylor painted and sold his work in Downtown Montgomery for years.

The Smithsonian has produced a video preview of the exhibit.

Traylor died in 1949

The Smithsonian website includes this profile:


“Bill Traylor (ca. 1853–1949) is regarded today as one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century. A black man born into slavery in Alabama, he was an eyewitness to history: the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, the Great Migration, and the steady rise of African American urban culture in the South. Traylor would not live to see the civil rights movement, but he was among those who laid its foundation. Starting around 1939—by then in his late eighties and living on the streets of Montgomery—Traylor made the radical steps of taking up pencil and paintbrush and attesting to his existence and point of view. The paintings and drawings he made are visually striking and politically assertive; they include simple yet powerful distillations of tales and memories as well as spare, vibrantly colored abstractions. When Traylor died in 1949, he left behind more than one thousand works of art.”


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