The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

ART/WRITE – Alexandre Hogue

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Alexandre Hogue (American 1898- 1994)

Hogue, Alexandre, Avalanche By Wind, 1944
Gift of William Benton
Oil on canvas, 33 3/20″ x 46″


1. Biography

Born in Memphis, Missouri, Hogue was raised in Denton, Texas and later studied drawing at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.  Hogue was employed as a commercial artist, working in illustration, lettering and advertising before moving to New York for four years from 1921-1925. He returned to Texas in 1925 ready to stay and make a living as an artist in the Lone Star State.

Like other artists of the 1930’s, such as Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, and Thomas Hart Benton, Hogue was influenced by the Regionalist movement in America. The Texas-based magazine Southwest Review called on artists to create a new culture of art inTexas, one that allowed Texans to relate themselves to their specific environment. Hogue was a leading force of Regionalism inTexas, telling local artists that, “To be outstanding their art should be indigenous”.

He is most famous for his Dust Bowl series which he began in 1937. It was featured in Life magazine, which described his work as intending to evoke a reaction to the disrupted relationship between man and nature. Others have also commented on how much his work contrasts from the landscape as productive garden to one of ruined ecological disaster.  This image, Avalanche by Wind (1944), was commissioned by Encyclopedia Britannica to illustrate their children’s encyclopedia. In a letter to The Museum, the artist denies he intended any social commentary with the painting. He claims to have simply wanted to document the physical realities from the era of the Dust Bowl.

Working out of his studio in a renovated building in Dallas, Hogue became an influential and popular Regionalist artist in the 1930’s, helping to place Dallas on the Modern art world map. Themes of Texas Regionalism can be seen in Hogue’s work, such as the desire to elevate the mundane and the simple things from one’s environment to a higher category.

Note: This work was a gift to The Museum from the owner, Thomas Benton Sr., (the Senator) the father of the Regionalist painter, Thomas Hart Benton.

Bibliography:

Stewart, R. (1985). Lone star regionalism: The Dallas nine and their circle 1928-1945.Austin,TX:Texas Monthly Press.

Delong, L.R. (2010) Alexandre Hogue. Retrieved  February26, 2013, from http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhoad.


2. History

Several factors occurred during the 1920-30’s to set the stage for the art movement known as Regionalism (or American Scene Painting). Immediately after WW I, the United States began a period of isolationalism that lasted until the start of WW II in 1941. This attitude had a direct impact on American artists. A few artists still looked to Europe for stylistic influence, with New York City symbolizing the port of entry for these modern, abstract European styles. But a greater amount of artists referred back to realism in order to document and pay tribute to American life and sought to define a truly American art. Their style would be defined by a representational depiction of everyday American life which was easily accessible and visually readable by the “everyday man”.

Thomas Hart Benton, along with John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood, were leading figures in the Regionalist art movement that grew out of the Midwest. The Midwestern Regionalism of which Benton was the voice for was perceived by the Texas art culture as one which was too tied up with nationalism. Hogue and other artists and writers in Dallas were not interested in defining The American scene, as this task was near impossible, and even possibly dangerous.

Texas artists in the thirties were more concerned about place; their location in Texas, which was influenced by its geographical and historical connections to Mexico, the Old South, as well as the West. They cautioned against Thomas Hart Benton’s call for a nationalist art, an art form suppressed of all European influence. The artists, like Hogue, instead took a more holistic approach to their landscape and scene paintings, seeing the environment in relation to rather than in isolation from the whole.

Bibliography:

Dennis, J.M. (1998). Renegade Regionalists: The modern independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steurt Curry. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Stewart, R. (1985). Lone star regionalism: The Dallas nine and their circle 1928-1945. Austin, TX: Texas Monthly Press.


3. Writing Exercises

Descriptive-Circle Description

This activity works best with students arranged in small groups. One person starts by writing down a brief description of what they see. A second student contributes to the first observation by either using a more creative word or by describing the observation in more detail. The description is added onto again until the entire group has contributed or until the map is complete. Use the “Descriptive Map” worksheet to document descriptions.

Narrative- Make Predictions

Pay particular attention to the sky, the windmill and the railroad track on the horizon. Hogue chose these three visual elements and combined them in one visual narrative on purpose. After a close visual analysis of what you see, make some predictions on what will happen next. Draw this future event including the visual elements that Hogue provides, landscape, sky, train tracks, hills of sand, etc.

Write a short news paper article describing your event and explain the causes, citing the visual evidence from Hogue’s painting.

Narrative- Point of View

Artists like Alexandre Hogue and Thomas Hart Benton were concerned about the idea of place and often how place defined one’s identity. Based on what you see, take on the perspective from an inhabitant of someone living in this landscape.  What is their life like? What do they see or smell? What is their day like? How has the landscape shaped who they are?

Write an inventive narrative of this person’s life written from the first person point of view.

Persuasive- Keep it short

Imagine you have visited the University of Arizona Museum Of Art, where you saw Hogue’s Avalanche By Wind. Tell your friends your opinion of this work in the form of a facebook entry. Use the farsebük worksheet to create a page. Why is this work important? How will they benefit from seeing it? Writing should be concise but still cite specific evidence to support your opinion.