Career opportunities in the 1950’s were limited for most of Florida’s African Americans. In Fort Pierce, though, a group of talented African American men (and one woman) rejected a life in the orange groves and packing houses, and pursued careers as artists, despite the barriers set in place by the laws and attitudes of segregation. When A.E. “Bean” Backus convinced Harold Newton to change his paintings to include Florida landscapes in 1954, and began teaching Alfred Hair, a style of painting unique to the Sunshine State was born.
Today the distinctive color palettes and vibrant landscapes of Florida, fast painting style, method of selling their work up and down the highways around South Florida, and their determination to make a living from their craft, have made these 26 artists popular with collectors around the world. Dubbed “The Highwaymen” in 1995, later art historians named this the “Last Great American Artistic Movement of the 20th Century”.
Florida House is proud to partner with the Walker Collection for Florida’s Self-Taught Art to celebrate the talent and legacy of eight of the nine original Highwaymen, plus two others. This group of selected paintings are on exhibit throughout 2022.