Mose Tolliver (born about 1919 - 2006)

Mose Tolliver painted as he sa on the edge of his bed at home in Montgomery, Alabama. There, he welcomed visitors interested in meeting him and buying his art. Surrounded by cans of house paint, he composed his images on scrap lumber of all shapes and sizes and sometimes on pieces of furniture. Tolliver was one of twelve children born to tenant farmers outside of Montgomery. Working the fields as a child, he briefly attended school through the third grade. Later, he worked at a variety of jobs including shipping for a furniture factory and gardening. Tolliver married in the early 1940s and had fourteen children, several of whom, including his daughter Annie, have followed in his artistic footsteps. In the late 1960s, while he was working in the factory, a slab of marble fell on Tolliver, crushing his legs and leaving him unable to work or walk without crutches. After this accident, Tolliver began to paint seriously. He was a prolific artist, producing as many as ten paintings a day. His favorite subjects included animals, birds, turtles, self-portraits, and erotic images of ‘moose ladies’ on bicycles with their legs in the air. He developed a unique style that is both fanciful and dynamic. A Tolliver trademark is the beer can tab that he attached to each painting as a means of hanging it on the wall. In 1981 Tolliver had a one-person show at the Montgomery Museum of Art, and the following year was included in the groundbreaking exhibition, “Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980” organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

 

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