Alexandre Hogue (1898-1994) Biography

Alexandre Hogue is known for paintings that examine the relationship between humans and the natural world.

Hogue was born in Memphis, Missouri but grew up in Denton, Texas.  After graduating high school in 1918, he enrolled at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design studying under fellow Texan, Frank Reaugh.  Back in Texas the next year, he found work as an illustrator for the Dallas Morning News.  In 1921, Hogue moved to New York and worked for various advertising agencies doing mostly calligraphic assignments.  In his spare time he availed himself of the region's art museums, and in the summers he made sketching trips to Texas, often traveling with Reaugh.

Hogue left New York in 1925, again settling in Dallas and devoting his full attention to painting.  He taught summer classes at the Texas State College for Women from 1931 to 1942, and was chair of the art department at Hockaday Junior College from 1936 to 1942.

Starting in 1926 and continuing through the 1930s, Hogue made numerous trips to Taos, studying the culture of the Pueblo Indians and keeping company with Taos' resident artists.  Native Americans' intimate connection to and reverence for the natural world resonated with Hogue whose mother had instilled in him a deep respect for "mother earth."  This theme runs throughout his work but is most obvious in the "Dust Bowl" paintings of the 1930s. 

Images of eroded fields and ruined farmsteads were harsh commentary on the devastating results of over-plowing and over-planting the dry plains.  Unlike previous landscape painters who celebrated pristine natural beauty or the rich fecundity of the earth, Hogue reinterpreted the landscape as a fragile creature susceptible to devastation through human greed and abuse.  The "Dust Bowl" series was featured in Life magazine in 1937.

Throughout his career Hogue sought to express the particular character of the southern plains region.  In this he was joined by a group of other Texas artists including Jerry Bywaters and Everett Spruce who came to be known as the "Dallas Nine."  They helped form the Dallas Art League in 1932 and showed together at the Dallas Museum of Art.  Hogue worked in a slightly abstracted realist style clearly related to other Regionalists but often differentiated himself with tightly cropped compositions and unusual points of view.  He rejected the Regionalist label, calling himself an "abstract realist" noting that true naturalism is impossible because all artists see nature in their own ways in their own minds.

In 1939, Hogue painted a mural for the Post Office in Graham, Texas and in 1941 he executed a panel for the Federal Courthouse in Houston, both under the auspices of the Section of Fine Art of the Treasury Department.  From 1942 to 1945, he devoted himself to defense work at North American Aviation.  Following the War, he was appointed head of the art department at the University of Tulsa.  During his years in Tulsa, Hogue moved more deeply into abstraction and included non-objective elements in his paintings and even executed some totally non-objective work. 

He often conducted extensive explorations of specific themes, creating series such as Atomic (1950-51), Alphabeticals (1960-64), Calligraphic One-Liner (1970-74), and Moon Shot (1971-74.)  Aside from the Dust Bowl paintings, his most famous series was his Big Bend, begun in 1970, exploring the geology and topography of Big Bend National Park on the Rio Grande. After Hogue's retirement in 1968, the University named its art gallery in his honor.  In 1984, the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa organized a major retrospective of Hogue's work.

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