Archive for January 17th, 2014


by Sam Juliano

Horace Pippin (1888-1946) was an African-American painter, who, faced with discrimination and segregation, taught himself the skills that brought him great renown and critical acclaim.  Pippin served in World War I, sustaining a serious injury that cost him the use of his right arm.  After the war he worked to rehabilitate it and began to draw.  He didn’t actually complete his first oil painting until he was 40 years old, but from that point on he proceeded to make his mark as an artist, stating simply “I paint it…exactly the way I see it.  After he was awarded the French Cross of War and the American Purple Heart he spent three years on his first painting, The End of the War: Starting Home, which provided therapy for his body and soul.

His life is the subject of a resplendent picture book by the duo that collaborated on the Caldecott Honor book A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams: Jen Bryant and illustrator Melissa Sweet.  As distinguished as that biography is, they have topped it with A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, a book of vibrant color blocks, with various motifs from Pippin’s actual compositions.   The book is a veritable feast for the eyes – done in watercolor, gouache and mixed media – one that entices you to caress by hand some of Ms. Sweet’s painting accouterments and multi-panel tapestries.  As the book’s title would imply, the color red is crucial in the visual scheme.  It is used for emphasis and rich ornamentation, yet as the story progresses it’s also thematically relevant. (more…)

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