Joseph E. Yoakum's Spiritual Landscapes

Susan Delson, The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2021

In the early 1960s, Joseph E. Yoakum was an elderly pensioner living in a storefront on Chicago’s South Side, making drawings that he displayed on a clothesline in his window. By 1971, his work was hanging in the Museum of Modern Art—and in the homes of Chicago artists who, delighting in his densely layered landscapes, had helped bring him into the public eye.


Created from modest materials—mainly ballpoint pen and colored pencils or pastels on inexpensive paper—Yoakum’s artworks depict specific locations he visited in a well-traveled and richly imagined life. But his visions of earthly terrains pulse with energy, pattern and movement, portraying a reality unlike any other.

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