Explore CollectionsFolk and Self-Taught ArtBill Traylor

Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor (American, 1854–1949), Untitled (Blue Man on Red Object), ca. 1939–1942, poster paint and pencil on cardboard, purchase with funds from Mrs. Lindsey Hopkins Jr., Edith G. and Philip A. Rhodes, and the Members Guild, 1982.93.

Like thousands of African Americans born in the middle of the nineteenth century, Bill Traylor (American, 1853–1949) was born enslaved on a rural plantation and died a free man in an urban center. In the late years of his long life, he drew the people and animals he encountered in the bustling Court Square of Montgomery, Alabama. He often began his compositions with restrained geometric outlines and perfected them with lively gestures and bold pops of color. In 1982, the High became the first museum outside of Alabama to acquire Traylor’s work, and today it holds the largest public collection of drawings by this “Old Master” of self-taught art.

Katherine “Katie” Jentleson

Katherine Jentleson

Senior Curator of American Art and
Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art