The Highwaymen Artists​

R.L. Lewis Backlit Royal Poinciana

“The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th century”

The Highwaymen, a group of 26 self-taught black artists who depicted the Florida landscape and sold their work door to door, or from trunks of their cars. For over 50 years The Highwaymen created large numbers of relatively inexpensive landscape paintings using construction materials rather than traditional art supplies.  They sold their work in towns and cities and along roadsides throughout Florida, often still wet, out of the trunks of their cars. They have been called “The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th century”.

A.E. Backus

Although technically not one of the Florida Highwaymen group of artists, A.E. Backus is closely associated with the group. Backus is considered to have been an important mentor to some, and inspiration to all of the actual Highwaymen artists. Backus is credited with teaching art to a wide range of students. No one knows exactly how many artists actually studied with Backus, or were merely mentored or inspired by him. Estimates put the number in the hundreds. Backus’s protegees are also referred to as “the Indian River School” of artists. The Highwaymen directly copied Backus’ paintings with varying degrees of success, Harold Newton being the one who’s artistic talents bring him closest to Backus.

A.E. Backus West Shore of Indian River

Samples of the Works of the Florida Highwaymen

H. Newton
W. Daniels
I. Knight
E. Buckner
J. Gibson
A. Black
T. Newton
W.C. Reagan
A. Hair
J. Maynor
A. Black
R.L. Lewis
R.A. McLendon
H. Baker
T. Knowles
C. Wheeler
R. Demps
R. Butler
L. Roberts

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