By Susan Crawley and Margaret Lynne Ausfeld. New York: Prestel Publishing, 2012. 104 pages, approximately 60 full-color illustrations, hardcover, 8 1/2 x 11 in.
This book features more than 60 drawings and places the Depression-era artist among the most important self-taught artists in the world. Bill Traylor was born into slavery on a plantation in Alabama; after emancipation, he continued to live and work on the plantation until sometime before 1928, when he moved permanently to Montgomery. There he began drawing extraordinary images on pieces of discarded cardboard. The radically simplified forms of these lively drawings seem to echo the reductive tendencies of modernism. He sold his work or gave most of it to Charles Shannon (1914–1996), a local artist who met Traylor in a chance encounter on a Montgomery sidewalk in 1939. Shannon was immediately engrossed in watching Traylor work and began bringing him poster paint, brushes, drawing pencils, and clean poster board; other admirers brought him crayons and compressed charcoal. Preserved by Shannon for approximately 40 years, the drawings were reintroduced to an enthusiastic public in the late 1970s.
Catalog for the exhibition
of the same name on view at the American Folk Art Museum in 2013.