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The American Folk Art Museum in New York is currently presenting the exhibition Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The show features over 60 drawings by the self-taught artist Bill Traylor (1854-1949), many of which have never traveled past the southeastern United States. The exhibition is complemented by Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections, which includes additional works on loan from private collections.

Traylor, one of the most significant outsider artists, was born into slavery on an Alabama plantation. Following emancipation, his family farmed on the plantation until the 1930s. In 1939, Traylor moved to Montgomery and spent much of his time drawings images of the people he saw on the street and scenes pulled from his memory illustrating his time spent on the farm. Over the course of four years, Traylor produced between 1,200 and 1,500 drawings.

While he garnered little recognition as an artist during his lifetime, Traylor began to gain notoriety during the 1970s thanks to his friend, Charles Shannon, the foremost champion his work. The R.H. Oosterom Gallery in New York mounted the first significant exhibition of Traylor’s work, which led to nearly fort solo shows and hundreds of group exhibitions. Traylor’s drawings now reside in major public collections including that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Montgomery Museum of Art in Alabama hold the largest public collections of Traylor’s drawings.

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts will be on view at the American Folk Art Museum through September 22, 2013.

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