Highwaymen: Newton & Hair

Highwaymen: Newton & Hair

Museum of Art - Fort Lauderdale

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The American Dream in the Sunshine State

The Highwaymen, also referred to as the Florida Highwaymen, are a group of 26 Aflican American landscape artists in Florida. Taught by Alfred "Beanie" Backus, they created a body of work of over 200,000 paintings, despite facing many racial and cultural barriers. Mostly from the Fort Pierce area, they painted landscapes and made a living selling them door-to-door to businesses and individuals throughout Florida from the mid-1950s through the 1980s. They also peddled their work from the trunks of their cars along the eastern coastal roads (A1A and US 1).

For over 60 years The Highwaymen created large numbers of relatively inexpensive landscape paintings using construction materials rather than traditional art supplies. As no galleries would accept their work, they sold them in towns and cities and along roadsides throughout Florida, often still wet, out of the trunks of their cars. Their success and longevity is remarkable considering they began their career in the racially unsettled and violent times of the 50s in Florida and amid the social conditions of the Jim Crow South where the stirrings of the civil rights movement were only just beginning. They have been called "The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th century".


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