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No biographical information about this artist has yet been discovered, except that which can be derived from a painting called "Bare Knuckles", that was found in New York and bears his signature. From this single painting, Hayes may be identified as a primitive, for his use of flat colors, and his insistence on minute detail (every polka dot, every shoe eyelet, and every link in each watch chain is carefully depicted). Hayes attempted to show everything and everyone present at the scene.
American primitive art is recognizable by the naive vision of the amateur artists who painted it and by its simplicity of technique, which indicates lack of academic training. It is a form indigenous to America and to the American spirit: it is forthright and direct, and has the enormous vitality typical of eighteenth and nineteenth-century America. Few primitive artists painted genre scenes and those that have been found are rarely very good examples of this type of art. The Currier and Ives lithographs that began to appear in 1857 may have made genre paintings quite unnecessary. When genre scenes were painted they usually depicted rural or outdoor life and stressed the good times enjoyed by villagers, frontiersmen, and farmers; the artist serving primarily as a reporter.
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