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Minnesota Highway

1933-1934 Erle Loran Born: Minneapolis, Minnesota 1905 Died: Berkeley, California 1999 oil on canvas 30 1/8 x 36 in. (76.5 x 91.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.104 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

Chilly and brown, this view of Minnesota farms seems at first glance as bleak and unpromising as the Great Depression that gripped the nation. The trees are bare and remnants of snow streak the empty fields with white. Yet artist Erle Loran imbued this painting of his home state with hope. The sky is an intense blue and the fluffy white clouds are blowing away. Streaks of red, gold, and purple enliven the brown tones of the scene. The rapid brushstrokes defining the trees and plowed fields are full of vitality, promising green leaves in the coming spring. The houses tucked among the hills shelter farmers who will care for the crops and reap the harvest. A truck speeds into the distance, preparing to head out of the painting to the right. What is around the corner? Loran demonstrated his stake in this place and its future by showing a sign in the foreground with Minnesota's distinctive yellow star design identifying the highway as Route 5, which ran near his home in the Twin Cities. Then he signed his name on a mailbox, identifying himself with this landscape.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label


Landscape - farm

Landscape - Minnesota

Landscape - road

Landscape - season - winter

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - Minnesota


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Erle Loran

Born: Minneapolis, Minnesota 1905 Died: Berkeley, California 1999

More works in the collection by
Erle Loran