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Beauford Delaney
Can Fire in the Park
1946
oil
24 x 30 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum



Like many of his contemporaries, Delaney used the people and street life of New York as his subject. This scene of men gathered around a makeshift source of heat and light was painted just after the end of World War II, a time when many Americans enjoyed prosperity. Can Fire in the Park,however, conveys a legacy of poverty and deprivation that continued long after the Great Depression, especially among the nation's African American citizens.