Monday, March 24, 2014

Pippin, Horace

Old Black Joe
oil on canvas
61.0 x 76.1 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA
-Fair use-

"The pictures ... come to me in my mind, and if to me it is a worthwhile picture I paint it ... I do over the picture several times in my mind and when I am ready to paint it I have all the details I need." (Pippin)

Horace Pippin (1888-1946) was a self-taught African-American painter who worked in a naive style. The injustice of slavery and American segregation figure prominently in many of his works.

Pippin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, moving to Goshen, New York as a small child. He developed a love for creating art, winning accolades and developing a reputation in his neighborhood for his craft even with limited illustrative tools. With his mother poor in health, he left school in his early teens to earn income, working for years at a hotel and subsequently holding other jobs. Upon joining the army, he was sent overseas to France to fight in World War I as part of the African-American Infantry. He was badly hurt and lost the use of his right arm after being shot, returning to the states in 1919. He eventually used a poker to hold up his right arm, which he had used to make art, and began to draw again as a therapeutic outlet.
After his work was featured in a home county show, he became part of a traveling group exhibit with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1938. He was also known for historical, politicized output with a series of paintings about abolitionist President Abraham Lincoln.
He was completely self-taught as an artist outside of a limited stint of classes at the Barnes Foundation and was featured in publications like Newsweek and Vogue.