Survival of the Fittest


Fred Darge ( American, 1900 - 1978 )

c. 1941
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General Description

Survival of the Fittest captures the clarity and heat of the West Texas landscape as well as the precarious existence of its inhabitants. In this meticulously detailed scene, a roadrunner and a snake face off in a climate beset by death and heat. Their combat amid a broken skull and parched cacti, seen in a close-up view, offers an abridged version of the precariousness of desert life. In a face-off with the snake, the roadrunner has momentarily forgotten its prey, the grasshopper, who may be the ultimate survivor in that harsh environment.

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 274.
  • DMA Label copy (1944.13), n.d.

Fun Facts

The title of this work is a phrase commonly used as a variation of Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection. Darwin published his theories in On the Origin of Species (1859), but "survival of the fittest" was coined by fellow scientist Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology (1864).