Skip to main content
Willie L. Tarver
Cap Lee #3
painted cement
15 × 16 × 7 1/2 inches (38.1 × 40.6 × 19.1 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Basil Hamblin.
Accession Number
Willie Tarver is a Georgia-born self-taught artist whose art career started in the 1960s after serving in the Korean War and working 25 years as a refrigerator repairman. A retired welder, Tarver’s work includes whimsical welded metal pieces and concrete sculpture. Along with wife Mae Tarver, also a sculptor, they created a sculptural environment including a castle outside their Wadley, Georgia home. Tarver is also known for his Folk Art Park in Atlanta, GA commissioned for the 1996 Olympics.

Willie Tarver’s unique sculptures and paintings are reactions to life in the South including themes such as religion, slavery, farm life, and the struggles of the working man infused with a personal sense of humor. In this work, Cap Lee #3, Tarver has taken his own physical features to create a hybrid-identity in bust form with American Civil War general Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate Army and surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in 1865.