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26 June, 2013
Horace Pippen
The story of folk artist, Grandma Moses, is almost legendary, how she was "discovered" in the late years of her senior citizenship as well as her methodical work habits, the blatant nostalgia in her work, the famous people who collected her farmscapes and family interiors, and the astronomical prices her work brought even before, but especially AFTER her death. But Grandma Moses didn't "invent" folk art. So-called "untrained" and/or itinerant artists are sprinkled through many European cultures and were especially prevalent in America as far back as the Frontier days.

In the 1930's however, folk-art was rediscovered in this country. It came to be cherished by the East-Coast "elite" including the Rockefellers an other moneyed families who relished the story-telling simplicity of its composition, subject matter, style, and painting technique. Among the most important artists working at this time in this manner was the African-American painter Horace Pippin. Born in 1888, in West Chester Pennsylvania, the grandson of slaves, he grew up in upstate New York.

Though entirely self-taught, Pippen was familiar with modernism. He found his own brand of abstraction in the stylisation of natural forms into flat patterns and delicate linear rhythms. His work centred on a number of themes including rural genre scenes, biblical pictures, and the history of his slave heritage. As a boy, Horace got his earliest artistic encouragement when he won a mail-in art contest. His prize--a box of crayons.

Contributed by Lane, Jim
11 November 1997

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