Can Fire in the Park

Media - 1989.23 - SAAM-1989.23_1 - 51984
Copied Beauford Delaney, Can Fire in the Park, 1946, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1989.23

Artwork Details

Title
Can Fire in the Park
Date
1946
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
2430 in. (61.076.2 cm.)
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • State of being — other — poverty
  • Figure group
Object Number
1989.23

Artwork Description

Can Fire in the Park is as much a swirling vignette of thickly applied paint as it is an image of a place. Delaney developed a vocabulary of signs -- streetlights, fire hydrants, manhole covers, and zigzagging fire escapes -- that became emblematic riffs on city life. In Can Fire, the bright yellow orbs of streetlamps and the glow of the moon against a cloud-filled night sky and hear from the fire embrace the men with waves of color and light. Delaney struggled financially for most of his life, so this empathetic scene may also represent a night he once spent on a park bench and the amity he shared with other homeless men.


African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012

 

Exhibitions

Media - 1995.22.1 - SAAM-1995.22.1_1 - 65784
African American Art in the 20th Century
January 18, 2019January 18, 2019
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world. Highlights from this collection are traveling to several cities across the United States in the exhibition African American Art in the 20th Century.