The Stranger

  • Hughie Lee-Smith, The Stranger, ca. 1957-1958, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1994.15

Luce Center Label

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.

Luce Object Quote
"I'm not a narrative painter. That is to say, I don't paint stories. What I tried to do was project a feeling, an emotional sense." The artist, quoted in Sherry Howard, "A Canvas in Black: Two pioneering painters who broke through the color line," Emerge, 1995
Title
The Stranger
Artist
Date
ca. 1957-1958
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
26 1/4 x 36 1/8 in. (66.7 x 91.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Architecture Exterior – domestic – house
  • Landscape
  • Figure male – full length
Object Number
1994.15
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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