Henry Speller was born in the settlement of Panther Bum in the Delta country of Central Mississippi. He grew up working on Delta where he often drew pictures during his lunch breaks. In 1939, he left Mississippi for Memphis, Tennessee. Speller moved to a house located a few blocks from Beale Street, the musical heart of Memphis. He was an accomplished blues musician who played guitar with Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.
The imagery and insistent rhythms of the Delta blues flow through Speller’s work, but his iconography is an explicit commentary of the social, economic, and racial exclusions he observed throughout his life.
extravaganza, works of the treger saint silvestre collection, oliva creative factory, são joão da madeira, portugal, from april 13th to september 15th, 2019.
art brut: breaking the boundaries, treger-saint silvestre collection, from june 1st to september 11th, 2014, curator : christian berst, oliva creative factory, sao joao da madeira, portugal.
on the wire, christian berst art brut gallery & jean brolly gallery, paris, from april 9th to may 22nd, 2016.
american outsiders: the black south, christian berst gallery, paris, from june 1çth to july 18th, 2009.
une rentrée hors-les-normes 2008 : découvertes et nouvelles acquisitions, christian berst gallery, paris, september 12th - october 11th, 2008.
on the wire, exhibition catalogue, christian berst art brut and jean brolly gallery, christian berst art brut ed., paris, 2016.
exhibition catalogue, treger-saint silvestre collection (from june 1st to september 11th, 2014, oliva creative factory, sao joao da madeira, portugal), christian berst art brut ed., paris, 2014.
arte bruta, terra incognita, exhibition ctatalogue (treger-saint silvestre collection lisbon, from april 20th to september 23rd, 2012, arpad-szenses foundation – viera da silva), texts by christian berst, marina bairrao ruivo, antonio saint silvestre, paris, lelivredart, 2012.
american outsiders I, the black south, african-american vernacular art, exhibition catalog, paris, lelivredart, christian berst ed., 2009.
outsider art, source book, art brut, folk art, outsider art, raw vision ltd, 2009.
edward m. puchner, "bodies of the blues : edward m. puchner theorises on the influence of the blues over the powerful work of Henry Speller", in raw vision n°65, winter 2008/2009.
gerard wertkin, encyclopedia of american folk art, routledge, 2003.
charles russell, self-taught art: the culture and aesthetics of american vernacular art, university press of mississippi, 2001.
william arnett, souls grown deep, vol 1 : african american vernacular art of the south: the tree gave the dove a leaf, atlanta, GA: tinwood books with the schomburg center for research in black culture, new york public library, 2000.
frank maresca and roger ricco, american-self-taught: painting and drawings by outsider artists, new york, alfred a. knopf, 1993.
chuck and jan rosenak, museum of american folk art encyclopedia of twentieth-century american folk art and artists, new york, abbeville press, 1990.
- collection de l'Art brut, Lausanne (Switzerland)
- American Folk Art Museum, New-York (United States)
- High Museum of Art, Atlanta (United States)
- Treger Saint Silvestre collection, Porto (Portugal)
- Smithsonian Museum Of American Art, Washington (United States)
- Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (United States)
- Rockford Art Museum, Rockford (United States)
- St. Jame Place Folk Art Museum, Robersonville (United States)
- The Old Capitol Museum of Mississipi History, Jackson (United States)
- White Hall Gallery, Richmond (United States)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York (United States)