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Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Hogue’

John Steuart Curry-- "Tragic Prelude" Mural depicting John Brown in Kansas

John Steuart Curry– “Tragic Prelude” Mural depicting John Brown in Kansas

One of my favorite genres of art is that of  American Regionalism.  You can lump painters like Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton  and  John Steuart Curry together as some of the  better known names in this group.  I am not particularly fond of the use of the word regionalist which seems to hint at some sort of narrow provincialism, a label that Eastern critics tried to pin on this Midwest-based movement of the 1930’s and 40’s.  But these painters and others who have been branded as Regionalists were not sentimental or naive.

In fact they espoused views that were often more aligned with progressive and socialist ideals.  Many of these artists were looking to make their work more accessible to the working class, something that they felt was lacking in the more elitist Modernist work of the time and simply used the landscape and people around them as the vehicle to convey these ideals.  This gave the work an inclusive populist quality that is especially appealing to me.  I like that their work is often simple to approach yet reveals so much more upon deeper inspection.

I have written about some of the more well known Regionalists such as Wood and Benton, as well as some of the lesser known names such as Alexander Hogue and Paul Sample but hope to shed some light in future posts on some of the more obscure names in this genre.

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Alexander Hogue- The Crucified Land  1939

Alexander Hogue- The Crucified Land 1939

Several years ago, I wrote a post about the work of Alexander Hogue, an American Regionalist painter whose work I felt was at the same level as that of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, though he never achieved the wider fame of these two.  I know I knew nothing of his work before stumbling across his name on the site of a gallery that I was associated with at the time in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Hogue had spent the last half of his long life, dying in 1994 at the age of 96.

Alexander Hogue- Mother Earth Laid Bare

Alexander Hogue- Mother Earth Laid Bare

His work was a stunning find for me.   The imagery is bold and powerful.  His color palette was strong and unique, with deep saturated colors often alongside ethereal, wispy colors .  His depictions of the southwestern landscape possess a profound sense of place and spirit, filling what might seem like an otherwise desolate scene with a quality of humanity.  His dust bowl scenes from the 30’s are spectacular visions.

Alexander Hogue --Eroded Lava Badlands Alpine 1982

Alexander Hogue –Eroded Lava Badlands Alpine 1982

So, I was thrilled when I read that the exhibit, Alexander Hogue: An American Visionary was opening this week at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in nearby Corning.  The Rockwell is an unexpected gem for the visitor to this region, a treasure trove of the largest collection of Western art east of the Mississippi where Hogue’s wonderful work will feel at home, although I feel his work is powerful enough to stand among any painter from the last century.  This exhibit displays work from across the many years of his long career, with works from the 1920’s up to near the end of his life.  Hogue worked until his death, which I find reassuring.

Here’s a video from  the show’s curator, Susan Kalil. I love how she describes the attachment of the owners of Hogue’s paintings to the work. I really urge you, if you are in the Corning area this fall, to stop into the Rockwell to see this show.

 

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