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'Untitled (Blue Man on Red Object)' by Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor

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, Traylor drew the men, women, and animals he encountered in the bustling Court Square of Montgomery, Alabama. Traylor 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.