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Bill Traylor (1854-1949)
Bill Traylor (1854-1949)

Drinking Man with Dog, 1939

Bill Traylor (1854-1949)
Drinking Man with Dog, 1939
inscribed by Charles Shannon on reverse fall '39 - He so drunk he step right over the dog; retains two Charles Shannon labels on reverse, Drinkers and H-62 Drinker Steps Over Dog
tempera and graphite on thin card
14 x 11 1/8 in.
Charles Shannon, Montgomery, Alabama
Hammer and Hammer American Folk Art, Chicago
Acquired from above in 1982
Chicago, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Collective Soul: Outsider Art from Chicago Collections, 19 September - 31 December, 2014.

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Cara Zimmerman
Cara Zimmerman

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Lot Essay

After a lifetime on a plantation, former slave Bill Traylor moved to Montgomery, Alabama. There, from a doorstep on Monroe Street, he composed starkly modernist images of lively animals, vibrant landscapes and active people. This wonderful, abstracted drawing reveals Traylor’s masterful understanding of space. By placing a striding figure at the upper left of his card, the artist activates and bisects his ground, drawing attention to negative space by boldly leaving the lower section of the work blank. That Shannon dated this piece to Autumn 1939 is important: knowing that this work was completed near the beginning of Traylor’s artistic practice helps to ground Drinking Man in his oeuvre and reveals the level of sophistication Traylor had already achieved by that date. Only about a dozen known Traylor drawings feature a figure with the exaggerated body shape rendered here, adding to the significance of this work.

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