Y3 – Day 71 – Continue Bowers

Migrant Mother, 1935 photographed by Dorothea Lange of San Francisco. This compelling, beautiful, timeless representation of the Madonna and her children, is heart wrenching. This picture brought Lange notoriety and the woman in the picture and her children help. It also brought to light the suffering, like The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck did, to the plight of the farm workers.


In Tractored Out, Childress, County, Texas, Lange once again captures the plight of erosion; the abandoned and barren landscape of the midwest, the destruction from the prairie winds and how poor farming practices depleted and destroyed the land.

People started to turn inward, literally towards the center of the plains and away from the cities. Some tended towards xenophobia or fear of immigrants and became isolationists.


This work is by Thomas Hart Benton and is called, Self Portrait with Rita painted in 1922. Well heeled, well educated and well traveled, Benton painted this on Martha’s Vineyard. He believed art belonged to the Heartland and needed to be regional, far removed from the European influences of modernist abstraction. It now hangs at The Smithsonian Institution. He influenced the Regionalist movement that romanticized local and small town America. He also taught art and one of his most famous students was Jackson Pollock (who rebelled against him and created abstract art)

The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley

This is called The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley, 1934 and is a depiction from an Ozark folksong. In the forefront, the blond playing the harmonica, is a young Jackson Pollock. Kristin had us listen to the tragic song about an accused yet innocent woman stabbed to death by her lover and “in her snowy white bosom the knife was plunged.” Notice the swirling hills, the motion and movement which would herald the next era into abstraction.

In 1934, Benton was on the cover of Time magazine. They praised him and people loved that his works told stories. He wanted ordinary people who read “the funnies” or the comics in the paper, to understand his art and make it accessible. But he is very vocal, burns a lot of bridges and rejected the art world and homosexuals, openly. In the late 1940’s he falls out of favor.



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