Friday, November 09, 2007

Horace Pippin: American Painter

Photo source: Horace Pippin, 1940 / Carl Van Vechten, photographer. Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Horace Pippin (February 22, 1888 - July 6, 1946) was a self-taught Black American painter born in West Chester, PA. Pippin served in the 369th infantry in Europe during World War I, where he lost full use of his right arm; he would no longer be able to lift it past his shoulder. This did not prevent Horace Pippin from painting when he decided to pick up the paint brush around 1930. However, it took him three years to finish his first painting. The images he painted primarily featured everyday Black life, historical figures and scences from his childhood. His style was known as Naïve art, which is characterized by a childlike simplicity. Nevertheless, Pippin's scenes and subjects in his art were powerful and inspirational in their content. In fact, I'm wondering if he had some influence on the late Jacob Lawrence is was similar in subject matter and simplicity. I had a chance to see one of Pippin's paintings this past Wednesday at the National Portrait Gallery here in Washington, D.C. I am definitely a new fan. It has inspired me to seek out other Pippin paintings, some of which are featured in other galleries in DC.

Sources:, the National Gallery of Art (NGA Classroom), and Smithsonian

Horace Pippin, Domino Players, 1943
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