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"The Hills of Old Wyoming in the Valley of the Moon near Casper Wyoming"

Joseph Yoakum, American, 1890 - 1972

Made in United States, North and Central America

c. 1966

Ballpoint pen, colored pencil, and pastel on paper

Sheet: 12 x 19 1/16 inches (30.5 x 48.4 cm)

Research inconclusive. Copyright may apply.

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Bequest of Derrel DePasse, 2002

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Yoakum was born in Missouri and traveled extensively in his youth, working a variety of jobs---including several with circuses---until he was about forty and settled in Chicago. In his seventies he began to produce the ball-point pen and colored pencil drawings for which he is known, in which the world is flattened out almost in the manner of a Persian miniature, creating visionary scenes of muted power and causing rocks and rivers, trees and clouds to conform to a stylized but organic system of patterning. No one knows whether his carefully labeled drawings were done from memory, reproductions, or imagination.

Additional information:
  • PublicationGifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    The bequest of the collection of twentieth-century American self-taught artists works assembled by Derrel DePasse greatly enriches the Museum's holdings of several artists of significance, including Martín Ramírez, William Traylor, Eddie Arning, and, in particular, Joseph Yoakum. During the last ten years of her life, DePasse devoted much time, research, and energy to the study, documentation, and collecting of Yoakum's abstract and colorful landscapes.

    Yoakum was born on Feburary 20, 1890, in the rural community of Ash Grove, Missouri, to parents of African American, Cherokee Creek, and European descent. At age ten, he left home to work as a horse handler with the Great Wallace Circus, and through his association with this and several other circuses, he traveled throughout much of North America and occasionally to Europe. Yoakum's later occupations included various jobs with several railway companies and brief forays as a miner. After army service during World War II, he settled in Chicago, where he started to experiment with drawing and painting in the 1950s, although his greatest period of artistic production began in the early 1960s. Through the extensive documentary evidence compiled by DePasse, we now understand that the fantastic imagery and dreamlike environments depicted in Yoakum's colorful landscapes were the artist's recollections of his adventures and experiences from his travels.

    During a visit to Philadelphia in 1989, DePasse first saw the work of Yoakum at the Janet Fleisher Gallery, a pioneer in the exhibition of self-taught artists. It is indeed fortunate and fitting that the fruits of DePasse's research and collecting will now, through this important gift to the Museum, serve as permanent testimony to the vision and brilliance of both the artist and the collector. Jack L. Lindsey, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary, pp. 124,125.