Self-taught and dedicated to portraying the effects of slavery in the US, Horace Pippin typified the emerging American voice in art with his balance of folksy style and enduring imagery. Wounded both physically and emotionally by World War I, Pippin was among the first artists to capture the horror of war. “…the whole entire battlefield was Hell, so it was no place for any human being to be,” Pippin said.
Once successful, Pippin tackled themes central to the African-American experience, including the lives of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln. His pieces were massively successful and dozens of galleries purchased his work, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art and London’s Tate Gallery. His success cleared the way for other self-taught and folk artists, turning American art into ART and not a profession.
Horace Pippin reenacted the experiences of the average man (white and black) against the backdrop of world events, developing his own style and symbols along the way. During his lifetime his genre work (landscapes, religious scenes and domestic life) gained the most attention, but toward the end of his career his historic work stood out. Also apparent in his work is his constant search for a new voice. Touring galleries and studying the works of other painters, Horace Pippin was able to incorporate their ideas into his work.
Self-Portrait, oil on canvas, 1941 (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY) http://gwarlingo.gwarlingo.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Pippin-Self-Portrait.jpg
Abe Lincoln: The Great Emancipator, oil on canvas, 1942 (Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY). http://gwarlingo.gwarlingo.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Horace-Pippin-Abe-Lincoln-The-Great-Emancipator-1942.jpg
John Brown Going to his Hanging, oil on canvas, 1942 (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA). http://gwarlingo.gwarlingo.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Horace-Pippin-John-Brown-Going-to-His-Hanging.jpg
The Elk, oil on canvas, 1945 (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA). http://gwarlingo.gwarlingo.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Pippin-The-Elk.jpg
Aldredge, Michelle. “The Life and Times of Horace Pippin.” 2013. http://www.gwarlingo.com/2013/horace-pippin/
Bio. True Story. “Horace Pippin Biography.” 2014. http://www.biography.com/people/horace-pippin-9441456
Stein, Judith. “Horace Pippin (1888-1946).” 2014. http://butlerart.com/pc_book/pages/horace_pippin_1888.htm