Alexandre Hogue, painter, was born on February 22, 1898, in Memphis, Missouri, the son of Mattie (Hoover) and Rev. Charles Lehman Hogue. He is best known for his paintings of the Dust Bowl of the American Southwest during the Great Depression. Most of his work on this subject is from the 1930s, but the theme of natural balance-and the resulting environmental disasters when humans fail to respect that balance-is found throughout his work. His ideas are expressed mainly in landscape paintings but they can also be traced through abstract and even nonobjective works later in his career. Other subjects that appear in Hogue's work are Native American life of the Southwest, the oil industry, farm and ranch life, and the Big Bend area of southwestern Texas. During the Depression era he produced murals in Houston and Graham, Texas, that dealt with local history.
Hogue spent his childhood in Denton, Texas, and graduated from Bryan Street High School in Dallas in 1918. He then moved to Minneapolis, where he took classes at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He returned to Dallas the next year, working as an illustrator for the Dallas Morning News before leaving for New York City in 1921. Employed by advertising firms as a designer specializing in calligraphy and lettering, he spent the rest of his time in the city's museums and galleries. Summer trips back to Texas often included sketching trips with pioneer artist Charles Franklin (Frank) Reaugh. When he returned to Dallas in 1925, he began to paint full-time. He also taught summer classes at the Texas State College for Women from 1931 to 1942, and was head of the art department at Hockaday Junior College from 1936 to 1942. During the 1920s and 1930s Hogue also spent much time in the Taos, New Mexico, art colony and elsewhere in the Southwest. In addition to having contact with artists like Ernest Blumenschein, W. Herbert Dunton, and Joseph Imhof, Hogue also became acquainted with the art and culture of Native American tribes of the region. Their concepts of the centrality of nature and of the human obligation to respect nature were significant in the development of his artistic philosophy.
During the 1930s Hogue was associated with other Dallas-area artists such as Williamson Gerald (Jerry) Bywaters, Otis M. Dozier, William L. Lester, and Everett Spruce (see DALLAS NINE). All sought to express the particular character of their region, but it was Hogue's paintings of the ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl that gained the greatest fame. In 1937 his Dust Bowl series was featured in Life magazine. Works such as Drouth Survivors (1936) and Drouth Stricken Area (1934) became well known for their accuracy in depicting the Dust Bowl environment and for the compelling message of the artist. In these and other works on the subject, Hogue presented a new interpretation of the American landscape-not as an infinitely productive garden, but rather as a devastated and ruined wasteland created through human greed, misuse, and disrespect. From 1939 to 1941 Hogue painted murals for the Treasury section of the Federal Art Project. With the coming of World War II, he devoted himself to defense work at North American Aviation in Dallas until 1945, when he was named head of the art department at the University of Tulsa, a position he held until 1963.
In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, Hogue maintained an active exhibition schedule after the war. He continued in a realist style but now also included abstract and nonobjective elements in his work. Series such as Atomic (1950–51), Alphabeticals (1960–64), Calligraphic One-Liners (1970–74), and Moon-Shot (1971–74) all showed a range of styles that the artist assimilated in his later career. Perhaps the best-known series is his Big Bend (1970s forward), pastels and oils inspired by the space and geologic forms of that natural preserve in southwestern Texas (see BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK). Hogue retired from the university in 1968, and in 1976 the university established the Alexandre Hogue Gallery. In 1984 a retrospective of his career was organized by the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa. His works are found in corporate and private collections and in a number of public collections, including those of the Philbrook, the Dallas Museum of Art, the National Collection of Fine Arts (Washington, D.C.), and the Musée National d'Art Moderne (Paris). Hogue helped form the Dallas Artists League in 1932 and was a charter member of the Lone Star Printmakers in 1938. He also wrote various articles on art, mostly for the Southwest Review. Hogue married Maggie Joe Watson on July 16, 1938; they had one daughter. He died in Tulsa on July 22, 1994.