Hello Readers, for the coming week I am back to daily posts for the 365 Days of Art.
Today’s post features Pippin’s Interior (1944).
Horace Pippin was a World War I Veteran. He fought with the U.S. 369th Infantry – who were known as the Harlem Hellfighters. They earned this name because this group of African American soldiers were mighty in battle. There might be a movie coming out about the Hellfighters, which is based on Brooks’ (2014) book here.
Pippin turned to art after he came back from fighting. His right arm was disabled by a sniper’s bullet during WWI and after Pippin settled back down in West Chester, Pennsylvania, he became a self-taught painter.
From 1941, until his death in 1946, Pippin painted some of his most popular works, which were a series of semi-autobiographical domestic interiors. Interior (1944) belongs to this series.
From the NGA:
Pippin’s paintings of interiors from 1941 to 1946 “all have the same quiet, peaceful ambience and feature many of the same common household items, such as rag rugs, quilts, a stove, and an alarm clock. What distinguishes Interior and gives added significance to the work’s title is the way the three figures, instead of interacting, have turned their backs to each other and seem lost in their own inner worlds.“
The National Gallery of Art website has a detailed lesson to go with Pippin’s Interior HERE
I have included a snippet below so if you have a minute, let’s do this together – let’s look at Pippin’s Interior and ask these questions.
Go grab a cup of tea or glass of some lemon water and come back when you have about five or ten minutes to do this – it will help you see the piece in a whole new way. It is really for children, but let’s lighten up and have a little fun with it….
“Read” the painting by looking carefully at all the details as clues to help tell the story:
- What do you see? Who is in the room? What is each person doing? (A little boy, maybe seven years old, is reading, writing, or drawing by candlelight on the left side of the painting. A little girl, maybe three or four years old, is cradling a doll on a rug in the center of the room. The mother or grandmother is smoking a pipe and warming her feet at the potbelly stove.)
- How would it feel to be in there? Is it warm or cold? (Snow on the windowpanes means that it is cold outside. The stove with the teakettle boiling suggests that it is warm inside.)
- What time is it? Is it evening or morning? (It must be late because it is dark outside. The clock reads six o’clock.)
- Is the room crowded or full of space? (The artist showed a lot of empty floor and wall space. This makes the room seem big and somewhat empty.)
- Is the interior modern or old-fashioned? (There are cracks in the walls. You can see lath—thin strips of wood used behind plaster walls. The chair next to the boy is broken but hasn’t been thrown away. This is a scene from the past. The family has no electricity for light or heat. They use candles and a wood-burning stove. Also, they are wearing old-fashioned clothing. Remember, the artist painted from his childhood memories. He grew up in the late nineteenth century, more than 100 years ago.)
Interior’s “Secret Number”: What number can you find again and again in Interior?
- Count the striped rugs.
- Count the people.
- Count the cracks in the walls.
The magic number is 3. Several things appear in sets of three. Can you find other things that appear in threes? (Hint: Can you find triangles in the painting? How many sides do they have?)
Now have students count by threes. Can they make it to 30?”
If you want to read more about Horace Pippin, Gwarlingo has a great post HERE.
PS For those of you that want to see what was going on during the second world war in 1944, around the time Pippin made some of his most personal art, GP Cox has a nice series (starting here) on August 1944 (same year that pippin made Interior)
Have a nice day and see you tomorrow for art day #44.