Mose Tolliver (1921–2006), Self-portrait, 1987
Paint on wood, 27 3/4 x 27 3/4 in.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Throughout a thirty-five-year career as an artist, Mose Tolliver produced numerous self-portraits ranging from realistic images of the artist on his crutches to imaginative, anthropomorphized abstractions. He altered his likeness with a frequency that suggests an acute level of self-awareness and a desire to explore the multiple—and sometimes contradictory—physical and personality traits that constitute an individual’s identity.
Mose Tolliver (c. 1921–2006) was first drawn to painting in his teenage years, making use of the materials he found around him, painting on bones, roots, the glass of discarded television screens, and postcards. It wasn’t until the late 1960s, when he was forced to retire after a workplace accident left him unable to walk, that he pursued painting full-time. Working primarily with house paint on plywood, Tolliver was prolific, creating countless iterations of his favorite subjects, including religious scenes, real and fantastical animals, erotica, people (real and imagined), and self-portraits.
Mose Tolliver’s work is in numerous museum collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Learn more about Mose Tolliver here.
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