Minnesota Highway

  • Erle Loran, Minnesota Highway, 1933-1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor, 1964.1.104

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

Minnesota Highway
Not on view
30 1836 in. (76.591.5 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape – Minnesota
  • Landscape – season – winter
  • New Deal – Public Works of Art Project – Minnesota
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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