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Horace Pippin
Old Black Joe
1943
oil
24 x 30 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment



Inspired by Stephen Foster's popular song, Pippin shows a former slave who lives out his last years as part of a plantation's “extended family” after the Civil War. Tethering the past (in the guise of the man) to the future (in the form of the child), Pippin presents the complex aftermath of slavery with sensitivity, insight, and a touch of irony.