Noah Purifoy


Noah S. Purifoy (August 17, 1917 – March 5, 2004) was an African-American visual artist and sculptor, co-founder of the Watts Towers Art Center, and creator of the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum. He lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California.

Purifoy was the first African American to enroll in Chouinard Art Institute as a full-time student and earned his BFA in 1956, just before his fortieth birthday. He is best known for his assemblage sculpture, including a body of work made from charred debris and wreckage collected after the Watts Riots of August 1965.

"I do not wish to be an artist. I only wish that art enables me to be." —Noah Purifoy, 1963

Wikidata identifier


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Purifoy was a founding member of the California Arts Council. He co-founded the Watts Towers Arts Center in Los Angeles in 1964. He was the first African-American student to be admitted to the Chinouard School of Art in 1952. Purifoy was best known for his works in assemblage.

Country of birth

United States


Artist, assemblage artist, sculptor

ULAN identifier



Noah Purifoy, Noah Sylvester Purifoy

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed May 11, 2024.