The Stranger

Copied Hughie Lee-Smith, The Stranger, ca. 1957-1958, oil on canvas, 26 1436 18 in. (66.791.8 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1994.15

Artwork Details

The Stranger
ca. 1957-1958
Not on view
26 1436 18 in. (66.791.8 cm.)
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape
  • Figure male — full length
  • Architecture Exterior — domestic — house
Object Number

Artwork Description

Like many other artists of the Cold War era, Hughie Lee-Smith explored themes of exclusion and alienation in his paintings. He believed that the African American experience in particular was one of rejection and isolation and his feelings of racial disparity frequently influenced his work. In The Stranger, a lone figure stands in the foreground engulfed by a brown and green hillside. The man is frozen mid-gesture, looking over his shoulder at a wide gulf separating him from the cluster of homes behind him. The man's race is ambiguous and features blurred, a choice Lee-Smith made in order to symbolize "everyman." The geography, too, is nonspecific, created by the artist from a compilation of sketches and photographic studies of midwestern landscapes. Lee-Smith changed the name of this painting from Town Beyond Slope to The Stranger in 1994 after being struck by the man's separation from the town.