Alexandre Hogue ( American, 1898 - 1994 )
Like the windmill, the rattlesnake is a recurrent motif in Hogue’s oeuvre from the 1930s, likely because both are visually interesting subjects and common throughout Texas. Hogue seemed particularly drawn to the play between the snake’s diamond-patterned scales and the twisting form of its body.
In the study after Drouth Survivors (1936, Centre Pompidou) he copied the snake from the painting but made its form more angular, while keeping the area around it fairly empty. A year later, in this print, Hogue accentuated the snake's curving body by repeating the serpentine shapes in the horseshoes he added on the right.
Sue Canterbury, Alexandre Hogue: The Erosion Series, Label text, 2014.
For centuries, people have considered horseshoes to be symbols of luck. If their ends point up, they bring good fortune, but if the ends point down, the horseshoe signals that luck is running out. Hogue is perhaps playing with this symbolism in Rattler.
Hogue recalled, “When I did The Rattler all my artist friends said I was crazy—that nobody would buy such a print . . . I find that people may not like a snake personally but they are always interested and fascinated by them, particularly when they are on paper.”
Rattler was incredibly successful, selling out faster than any other print by Hogue.