MOSE TOLLIVER Mose Tolliver Main < BACK

Mose Tolliver is from the Pike Road Community (southeast of Montgomery), Alabama. He paints simple and colorful images and is one of the best-known black folk artists in the South. A sharecropper's son and one of a dozen siblings, Tolliver now has fourteen children of his own. He worked as a tenant farmer and gardener for many years and he later took a job with the McLendon furniture company.

In the late 1960s, a load of marble crushed his legs and almost killed him, and he had to depend on crutches and is unable to work. In 1970, at the encouragement of his former employer, he began to paint. He lives out fantasies in his paintings and paints purple birds, green-faced people, and strange animals. He also does strange sexual subjects including the "moose lady" who when she is ready for a man goes outside and rides her exercise bike instead and is satisfied. His work is simple, opaque and almost childlike in its execution yet dramatic in its impact. Sometimes the artist finishes off a painting by painting a stripe of black around the picture to act as a frame and tacking a beer can pull tab on the back as a hanger. Due to his injury, Mose works on relatively small boards so that he can prop them on his lap in his bed or on his chair.

His family has also started painting and selling their work after Mose gained his popularity and in 1985 Annie Tolliver began painting for her father and letting him sign the work. She began signing her own name to the work, after her work began to sell and became better known. Mose has been included in many folk art exhibitions and galleries, including "Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980" at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., 1982.

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