Horace Pippin, American Modern Anne Monahan

Publication date:
11 Feb 2020
Yale University Press
264 pages: 254 x 203mm
96 color + 25 b-w illus.
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A nuanced reassessment that transforms our understanding of this self-taught artist

Arguably the most successful African American artist of his day, Horace Pippin (1888–1946) taught himself to paint in the 1930s and quickly earned international renown for depictions of World War I, black families, and American heroes Abraham Lincoln, abolitionist John Brown, and singer Marian Anderson, among other subjects. This volume sheds new light on how the disabled combat veteran claimed his place in the contemporary art world. Organized around topics of autobiography, black labor, artistic process, and gift exchange, it reveals the range of references and critiques encoded in his work and the racial, class, and cultural dynamics that informed his meteoric career. Horace Pippin, American Modern offers a fresh perspective on the artist and his moment that contributes to a more expansive history of art in the 20th century. Featuring over 60 of Pippin’s paintings, this volume also includes two previously unknown artist’s statements—“The Story of Horace Pippin as told by Himself” and “How I Paint”—and an exhibition history and list of artworks drawn from new research.

Anne Monahan is an art historian based in New York.

“Horace Pippin shines in the midst of an overdue racial reckoning in the United States, to which it makes a substantial scholarly contribution.”—Clara Barnhart, caa.reviews

“[T]his well-researched study challenges the continued classification of Pippin as a naïve outsider artist [and] expands our understanding of modern art in the United States.”—Rebecca VanDiver, Panorama: Journal of Historians of American Art

“Not only does Anne Monahan offer insights into the mind and methods of Horace Pippin, but she also gives us a rarely explored, comprehensive view into the inner workings of a burgeoning American art scene, an enterprise which relied upon this self-taught luminary for its own identity and advancement.”—Richard J. Powell, Duke University

“Monahan has achieved such an impressive sense of Pippin's internal developments and career-long motifs that she can adeptly shuttle between works, genres, and themes to build complex arguments about the artist’s cumulative impact.”—Jennifer Jane Marshall, University of Minnesota

“Monahan challenges the predominant narrative of Pippin’s life and work, convincingly demonstrating the problems of previous scholarship and providing sound evidence for her own.”—John P. Bowles, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill