Noah Purifoy was born in Snow Hill, Alabama, in 1917, and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. Purifoy was the first African American to enroll at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) as a full-time student. He and earned his BFA in 1956. His earliest body of sculpture was constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was the basis for 66 Signs of Neon, a group exhibition dealing with the Watts rebellion.
Noah Purifoy was cofounder of the Watts Towers Art Center, adjacent to Simon Rodia’s landmark Watts Towers in Watts.
Purifoy was on the California Arts Council from the late 1970s through late 1980s. He initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions, bringing art into the state prison system. In 1989 he then moved to the southern Mojave Desert to create artworks until his death in 2004.
In 1999, the Noah Purifoy Foundation (NPF), an all-volunteer non-profit foundation has been established with the mission to preserve and maintain Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Museum of Assemblage Sculpture.
Revisited: Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Museum of Assemblage Sculpture. Joshua Tree (California, USA), February 19, 2020.
–– Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
Complete video (30:57 min.):
0:00 Carousel, 1996
4:00 Untitled (Welcome Sign), 1998
5:13 Shelter, 1992-1993
8:07 The Kirby Express, 1995-96
9:02 Igloo, 1992
9:40 Untitled (Appliance Store), 1996
10:45 Three Witches, 1995
14:00 No Contest (Bicycles), 1991
14:54 The White House, 1990-93
18:49 Ode to Frank Gehry, 2000
20:20 65 Aluminum trays, 2002
21:39 Sage at Sage (Collage), 1996-97
22:56 Commissary, 1994
24:55 Adrian’s Little Theater, 2000
26:12 Quonset Hut
28:18 Gallows, 2003