Horace Pippin was born in West Chester, Pa., in 1888 but grew up in Goshen, New York. This black artist became interested in art at age seven, when he won a set of crayons in a magazine contest. He bought a large piece of coarse muslin, cut it in small squares, fringed the edges and decorated these doilies with crayons.

Pippin spent fourteen months in World War I fighting for our country. He was wounded in his right arm by a sniper and lost use of his arm for the rest of his life. So he stopped doing art. But in 1929 he discovered by accident that he could draw on a panel of wood by applying a hot poker to it. He made seventeen drawings this way.

In 1930 he did his first painting by holding his right arm with his left hand for support. In 1937 one of his paintings was placed in a window at a shoe repair shop in West Chester and when two men where passing by, an art critique and an illustrator, they loved it and arranged to have Pippin’s work presented in an exhibit at the local community center. Pippin soon became famous and earned a living out of his art, even though his wife didn’t really believe in him as an artist and continued to wash clothes for a living.

In 1930 Pippin had four pieces of art at the Museum of Modern Art on exhibit. This self-taught artist, who believed that he didn’t have to go far to find beauty, overcame his disability and began a new successful career late in life. He produced a great number of paintings, seventy-five in his last six years of life. He died in 1946.


Holy Mountain III – When World War II broke out, Pippin decided to paint about hope and peace and created four Holy Mountain paintings. This work is flat but in this painting hope is reflected by the contrast Pippin makes, in colors as in subjects.

Notice the shepherd and two unprotected boys peacefully relaxing next to wild animals, which are in harmony with domesticated animals as well.

The background, the dark forest with it’s shadows of figures suggesting war by the weapons they are holding and the white crosses on tombs is a strong contrast on the peaceful group of people and animals on the foreground.

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