Mose Tolliver (1921–2006), Me and Willie Mae, 1987
Housepaint and marker on wood, 30 x 24 in.; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
An injury at the McLendon Furniture Company, where he worked, left Tolliver disabled and unable to walk without crutches. In Me and Willie Mae, Tolliver painted himself on his crutches, standing next to his wife. He later explained that the birds and the nude figures depicted overhead represent his paintings hanging on the wall of their home.
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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