How An Alabama Handyman Became One Of America's Most Beloved Outsider Artists

April 7, 2015 12:41 PM

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How An Alabama Handyman Became One Of America's Most Beloved Outsider Artists

It's not hard to recognize a Mose Tolliver painting. He communicates in a visual language all his own. The subject matter ranges from portrait to landscape to erotica with a lot in between, and yet his singular style -- flat, full frontal or straight profile, a muted palette, and did we mention flat? -- unites the motley content. The simplified yet alien renderings read almost like unprocessed emoji from an alien planet, attempting to recreate life on Earth through symbols that appear slightly off, though undeniably magnetic.

Tolliver was born on the Fourth of July around the year 1920 near Montgomery, Alabama, one of seven boys and five girls. Growing up, the African American artist worked a variety of odd jobs -- he attended school until third grade -- including truck farming, gardening, plumbing and carpentry. He marr...

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