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Beauford Delaney

Can Fire in the Park
1946
oil
24 x 30 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum Purchase

Flames roar from the wire-mesh trashcan, warming several men who brace themselves against the cold. Delaney’s bright colors and swirling brushwork add a visual heat and energy to the scene. Painted in 1946 as America was emerging from years of war and the Depression, Delaney’s picture focuses on the neediest of the urban poor.