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Estimate: $ 30,000 - $ 40,000
NOAH PURIFOY (1917 - 2004) Untitled (66 Signs of Neon).
Mixed media assemblage, including burnt wood, acrylic, stencil and color felt, on plywood board, circa 1966. 1422x914 mm; 56x36 inches.
Provenance: the estate of Gerald Moyer and Lyle Clark, Manhattan Beach, CA; private collection, California.
This striking and colorful assemblage is an outstanding example of Noah Purifoy's work in assemblage. It includes charred plywood and stencilled letters found in many of the works from his important exhibition 66 Signs of Neon.
Noah Purifoy grew up in Alabama - he earned an undergraduate degree from Alabama State Teachers College in 1943, and a graduate degree from Atlanta University in 1948. Noah Purifoy moved to Los Angeles in 1953 to study at the Chouinard Art Institute. Purifoy was not only the first African-American student to be enrolled full-time, he was a mature student - receiving a BFA in 1956, just before turning forty.
The Watts Rebellion in August of 1965 changed Purifoy's life and art. At the time, Noah Purifoy and fellow artist Judson Powell ran the art education program at the newly created Watts Towers Arts Center where Purifoy was the director. The Watts Towers center had grown as a sculpture garden around the towers of assemblage by the eccentric Italian-American Simon Rodia whom began building them in the 1920s. In 1966, Purifoy and Powell co-founded the Watts Summer Festival and then quickly organized Junk Art: 66 Signs of Neon in commemoration of the Watts Rebellion in only 30 days. The exhibition included 66 art works, all assemblages made from debris and detritus of the Watts uprising, including burned wood, windows, doors and railroad ties - collaborating with several other artists, alongside photographic documentation. The exhibition went from the Watts Center to UCLA and then traveled widely until 1972. Sirmans/Lipschutz p. 80