Using modest materials, Bill Traylor created a visual autobiography in which he recorded events from his past, as well as his observations of life in Montgomery, Alabama. Traylor offered his drawings for sale to passersby, but he sold or gave most of his work 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. Traylor shunned the clean paper, however, because he responded creatively to the irregular shapes of the pieces of cast-off cardboard he found on the street, especially the smudges, stains, and marks that were deposited on them.
Preserved by Shannon for approximately forty years, the drawings were reintroduced to an enthusiastic public in the late 1970s and now rank among the most important examples of self-taught art ever created.
This exhibition catalog includes an introduction by William Louis-Dreyfus