HORACE PIPPIN: The Artist as a Black American by Selden & Carole Cleaver Rodman

HORACE PIPPIN: The Artist as a Black American

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The starkly powerful paintings reproduced here in color and black and white establish an immediate claim on our interest, and the slender biography makes no attempt to disguise the bleakness and tragedy of Pippin's life, nor does it invest him with any sophistication, political or otherwise, which he did not possess. The artist's life as a black American was marked by a crippling injury in World War I, unemployment, marriage to a woman who supported him by doing laundry and eventually alcoholism and his wife's death in a mental hospital (after she lost 100 pounds in a vain attempt to regain the interest of her increasingly famous husband). But in contrast to this depressing chronicle the paintings reflect a steadily developing genius. The authors' critiques suggest alternate interpretations without forcing any one view on the reader, and Pippin's few recorded statements help to reconcile the man with the artist (first explaining his preference for Renoir's canvases because ""they're full of sunlight. . . and look at them tits!"" then, later, ""I'm going to take the colors out of that man's painting and get them into mine""). Pippin is definitely a talent worth rediscovering, and the authors (Rodman wrote the original monograph on Pippin back in 1946) have given us a candid, unsentimentalized portrait.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday