Presented concurrently with the artists of Gee’s Bend and Thornton Dial will be 63 drawings and paintings on cardboard by the self-taught Alabama artist Bill Traylor. Born into slavery in 1854 on a plantation near Montgomery, Traylor began making art at the age of 82. His works are notable for their flat and simply defined shapes and vibrant compositions, in which memories, folk legends and observations relating to African American life are merged. The power and originality of his art was recognized in 1940 by painter Charles Shannon, who arranged for a solo exhibition of his work at an art center in Montgomery. Over the years, Shannon purchased hundreds of works from Traylor and kept them in storage because of the lack of interest in the art world. In 1979, Shannon arranged for a show in a New York gallery and in 1982, Traylor’s art was included in the Corcoran Gallery’s Black Folk Art in America. Today, Traylor is recognized as one of the finest American artists of the 20th century.

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery.

View an excerpt of Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts, a documentary now in production.

Exhibition gallery

Thank you to our exhibition supporters

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.