End of the Trail

MAKER:
Artist

Alexandre Hogue ( American, 1898 - 1994 )

DATE:
1936
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General Description

The only lithograph included in Alexandre Hogue’s Erosion Series, End of the Trail is one of the artist’s many meditations on the ecological destruction the Dust Bowl inflicted upon the Southwest in the 1930s. In this series, Hogue painted and etched in a self-described psychorealist style, arranging iconographic markers in a logical manner to imbue the work with a type of realism that would viscerally affect the viewer. A hyper, jarring reality is certainly achieved in the image of besieged earth in End of the Trail, which depicts the devastating effects of erosion, drought, and resulting dust storms on organic life in the Southwest.

In the foreground Hogue has assembled an emotive narrative filled with the symbols of deliberately misused land: a plow, dug into dry soil; a cattle’s skull, grimacing at its own fate; and fallen barbed wire, uncoiled from its posts and tangled in the dust. In the background, dunes of dry land reach far into the horizon, proving the dismal reality far beyond our picture plane. While there are no human figures in this print, Hogue has organized his composition to emphasize the effects of irresponsible human presence, and resulting destruction. These symbols include the plow, barbed wire fences, and unfertile, eroded soil. The artist considered the constant plowing of land and erection of barbed fences to be major contributors to the sober reality many farmers faced in the years following the Great Depression. With his title, End of the Trail, Hogue suggests not only that this arid scene is quite literally the end of the trail for the cow but also a metaphorical end for the farmer, whose drought-stricken land is and will be void of bounty.

Adapted from

  • Erin Pinon, Label text, 2016

  • Sue Canterbury, Alexandre Hogue: The Erosion Series, Label text, 2014.

Fun Facts

  • _End of the Trail _was well received by critics and patrons alike, winning a Lawrence S. Pollock Purchase Prize at the Eighth Annual Allied Arts Exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art (then known as the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts) in 1937.