African American Artist William Tolliver Dead at 49

African American Artist William Tolliver Dead at 49 – Brief Article

SPECIAL REPORT–William Tolliver, a contemporary painter of African American art, died Sept. 1 at the age of 49–but not before leaving an indelible mark on the art world.

Tolliver emerged as a professional artist in the 1980s. His versatile and exuberant style captured the attention of galleries and collectors across the United States and more than 700 of his paintings sold in three years. In part because of the high demand and sale of his work, the African American art market flourished to a greater height during this time.

Tolliver has exhibited in the rotunda of the United States Senate Building and is featured in museum collections such as the Corcoran Museum in Washington, D.C., The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Hampton University Museum in Hampton, Va.

He has also been featured in major art publications, including The Art Gallery International and The International Review of African American Art.

Tolliver is best known for his creative depiction of cotton field workers, country landscapes, jazz musicians and character studies worked in abstractions and impressionism. Many industry professionals say his master of color, harmony and design is unmatched in the art world.

Tolliver’s knowledge of art did not come in the form of basic classroom instructions or even formal tutoring, however. It came mostly from his innate talent, library books and a mother who also loved to draw.

Born in 1951 in Vicksburg, Miss., Tolliver and his family moved to Lafayette, La., in 1981. His successful career as an artist began with the dedicated assistance of his late wife, Debrah. In 1991, the family moved to Georgia and opened the first upscale African American art gallery in Atlanta’s Buckhead community.

A special exhibition of Tolliver’s work will be held at Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 1 to 22.

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