Artist Info


    David Butler



David Butler was born on October 2, 1898 in the small town of Good Hope, Louisiana, the son of a carpenter and a missionary mother.  While he demonstrated some skill in his childhood drawings and in working with his hands, he spent most of his life in menial jobs in the timber and pulpwood industry.  An accident at work left him partially disabled and forced him to retire from full time work when he was sixty two.

It was then he had the time and inclination to make things to “pretty up” his home.  Used to working with his hands and an eye for color and form, he picked up materials that were available at hand and turned them into objects of joy and beauty.  His images of fantasy which he cut from metal were brightly painted and mounted or hung about his home and yard.  These were created for his own enjoyment and for friends and neighbors.  


 When a number of artists and collectors learned of his work in the 1970’s, word of this “outsider” artist known for his talent in creating art from metal cut outs and other found items quickly spread. Butler was regarded as highly inventive and visual, crafting colorful animals, dragons, mermaids, and people from tin as he sat on the ground, using a hammer and modified ax head to create original works of art using his intuitive knowledge of color and spatial relationships.


Unlike many self-taught artists who only gained fame following their deaths, David Butler experienced some success during his lifetime.  His first national recognition came when he was included in “Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980”, an exhibition organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  He had several  other museum exhibitions including the Delaware Art Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art.


After selling his art well for a few years in the 1980s, he became very discouraged by repeated incidents of vandalism at his home and in his neighborhood.  Added to his failing health,  he stopped making art and finally moved out of his home and into a nursing home.  He died there on May 18,1997 just short of his 99th birthday.