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Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

28 Sep 2018 - 17 Mar 2019

Born in antebellum Alabama, Bill Traylor was an eyewitness to history – from the Civil War to Jim Crow segregation, the Great Migration and the steady rise of African-American urban culture in the South. In the late 1930s, a decade after leaving plantation life and moving to the city of Montgomery, Traylor took up pencil and paintbrush. When he died in 1949, Traylor left behind more than 1,000 works of art, the only known person born enslaved, and entirely self-taught, to create an extensive body of graphic artworks. This exhibition brings together 155 drawings and paintings to provide the most encompassing and in-depth study of the artist to date. Find out more about the ‘Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor’ exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s website.

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Self-Portrait (ca. 1939-40), Bill Traylor. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY

Self-Portrait (c. 1939–40), Bill Traylor. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Art Resource, NY

Untitled (Radio) (ca. 1940-42), Bill Traylor. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Photo by Gene Young

Untitled (Radio) (c. 1940–42), Bill Traylor. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo: Gene Young

Untitled (Man, Woman, Dog) (1939), Bill Traylor. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Photo by Gene Young

Untitled (Man, Woman, Dog) (1939), Bill Traylor. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Photo: Gene Young

Mother with Child (ca. 1939-42), Bill Traylor. Photo by James Prinz, Chicago

Mother with Child (c. 1939–42), Bill Traylor. Photo: James Prinz, Chicago

Black Turkey (ca. 1939-42), Bill Traylor. The LucasKaempfer Foundation. Image courtesy the Betty Cuningham Gallery

Black Turkey (c. 1939–42), Bill Traylor. The Lucas Kaempfer Foundation. Courtesy the Betty Cuningham Gallery