Study for "Drouth Stricken Area"
Alexandre Hogue ( American, 1898 - 1994 )
Hogue blamed the ecological problems in the Great Plains on man’s inept and thoughtless over-cultivation of the land, viewing the plow as the principal agent of the disaster. In his words, prime grazing lands had been destroyed “first by fence, then by overplowing, now by drought.” The devastation of this desertification is evident in Drouth Stricken Area, as dust hangs in the air like a thick orange haze behind a broken windmill that towers above an abandoned farm surrounded by sand dunes. Railroad ties form a makeshift corral, now empty as the surviving cow stands beside the sand-filled watering hole. A vulture watches expectantly, waiting for the cow to succumb to starvation and dehydration. The presence of the animals and the addition of another house and windmill far in the distance are notable changes from this 1932 pencil study for the painting. What would have been a peaceful scene of abandonment is now filled with tension and tragedy as we sympathize with the plight of the dying, helpless cow.