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Cover for Suffering and Sunset

Suffering and Sunset

World War I in the Art and Life of Horace Pippin

Celeste-Marie Bernier


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (11/13/2017)


For self-made artist and soldier Horace Pippin—who served in the 369th all-black infantry in World War I until he was wounded—war provided a formative experience that defined much of his life and work. His ability to transform combat service into canvases of emotive power, psychological depth, and realism showed not only how he viewed the world but also his mastery as a painter. In Suffering and Sunset, Celeste-Marie Bernier painstakingly traces Pippin’s life story of art as a life story of war. 

Illustrated with more than sixty photographs, including works in various mediums—many in full color—this is the first intellectual history and cultural biography of Pippin. Working from newly discovered archives and unpublished materials, Bernier provides an in-depth investigation into the artist’s development of an alternative visual and textual lexicon and sheds light on his work in its aesthetic, social, and political contexts.

Suffering and Sunset illustrates Pippin’s status as a groundbreaking artist as it shows how this African American painter suffered from but also staged many artful resistances to racism in a white-dominated art world.

Praise For Suffering and Sunset: World War I in the Art and Life of Horace Pippin

"Celeste-Marie Bernier has written a sweeping account of the art, life, and time of Horace Pippin, one that brings unprecedented color to and a clear understanding of an under-represented American artist. The voluminous research in Suffering and Sunset takes the reader beyond the realm of art to establish a broad historical base that includes issues of race and identity in American culture. The book gives an unbiased biographical account of the artist’s everyday activities, much of which is drawn from Pippin’s war diary and his day-to-day transactions with his art dealer. Salient among Bernier’s observations about Pippin’s art and his long journey as a World War I soldier in Europe are the extraordinary experiences he endured in the pursuit of his artistry, some of which were purely racist in nature. Relying heavily on Pippin’s own personal account of his life as an artist, Bernier paints an indelible word picture of the pain, struggle, and triumph of one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century." 
David C. Driskell, Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus, University of Maryland, College Park

“Bernier painstakingly examines Pippin’s manuscripts, paintings, and sketches to show how his meager written legacy casts revealing light on his other works…. The author analyzes Pippin’s work in exhaustive…detail, comparing the scant information of his wartime experience with the stark monotones in his paintings…. [The] in-depth analyses [are] filled with learned conjecture.” —Kirkus Reviews

Temple University Press, 9781439912737, 552pp.

Publication Date: November 5, 2015

About the Author

Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of African American Studies at the University of Nottingham, England. She is the author of Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination and African American Visual Arts: From Slavery to the Present.