Ellis Buckner Floridian Highwaymen Landscape Oil Painting
Ellis Buckner (American, 1943 – 1991)
Untitled (wetland landscape), late 20th century
Oil painting on canvas
Signed to lower right
American artist Ellis Buckner was born in Gifford, Florida in 1943, a historically black community. He grew up in a large family in the Jim Crow South. When his father passed away, Buckner and his brother, fellow artist George Buckner, dropped out of high school and joined the workforce to support their family. During this time in racially segregated Florida, the work afforded to African American community members was in kitchens or fields. The young Buckner worked jobs such as selling vegetables for street vendors and picking in the fields, until he met the black artist Harold Newton who was making a living by selling his paintings. Newton became a mentor to Buckner and introduced him to a group of black landscape painters in nearby Fort Pierce. These artists, ignored by the whites-only galleries, sold their work out of the trunks of their cars along the Florida highways. By painting the local landscapes, a subject each of the artists was familiar with, they were able to complete multiple paintings in one day; then selling them along the highways for $10 – $30, the Florida Highwaymen earned more than the standard daily wages for black laborers. Ellis Buckner followed these practices and became a member of the Florida Highwaymen. Though not an official collective, these artists were a group of contemporaneous, black painters. Buckner continued to make a living selling his own work until his passing in 1991. In 2004, the Florida Highwaymen were posthumously inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. By 2019, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture included a Florida Highwaymen collection that cemented Ellis Buckner and his fellow artists in national history.
- accretions and discoloration throughout; scratches and scuffs to the surface; abrasions and wear to edges.