Horace Pippin

"Of all American painters, Horace Pippin comes closest to John Kane, but at times his painting definitely has more charm than any of Kane's canvases can boast," judged Robert M. Coates of the New Yorker. He also claimed that Pippin's work was "precise, sharply drawn, and minutely detailed… a kind of natural sophistication in the use of color that is at times surprising." Besides the description of his artwork, Pippin was said to be "a tall, broad, open-faced man with a flashing smile and a hearty laugh." He was also a warm, religious person.
Horace Pippin was born on February 22, 1888, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was the grandson of slaves and the son of domestic workers. His family moved to Goshen, New York when he was 3 years old. Pippin grew up sketching the world around him and would illustrate his spelling words in school. But his family could not afford art materials. At age ten, he won a box of crayons in a magazine drawing contest and started coloring. He left school at age 14 to work at a hotel where his mother had been a maid. His boss was so impressed with a portrait that Horace made of him; he wanted to send young Horace to art school. But, Horace had to work because his mother was sick. He worked in a coal yard, a feed store, furniture packer and iron molder.
When America entered World War I, Pippin, who was 29, enlisted in the Army. In 1917, he was stationed in France. He fought for many months in the frontline trenches in the Argonne Forest with the celebrated Black Regiment, 369th Infantry, called the "Harlem Hell Fighters." He recorded his experiences in great detail and added colored-pencil drawings. These vividly document the exposure to cold, rain, gunfire, confusion, and death. He was wounded by a gunshot to the arm and honorably discharged in 1919. The war shattered Pippin physically and emotionally. He had a steel plate in his shoulder and his right…


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