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Cecil Head (1906 – 1995)

Farm Mural Study, c. 1940, oil on Masonite, signed lower right, 15 x 42 inches; presented in a newer wood frame


About the Painting

A delightful regionalist composition, Cecil Head’s Farm Mural Study features a tidy and verdant farmscape where the animals outnumber the farmer and remind the viewer of an idealized fecundity of the American Midwest. Head gained early recognition for his mural designs in 1934 when his work was selected to represent Indiana in a Public Works of Art Project exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Head excelled at rural Indiana scenes and the present work bears comparison to his most famous painting, Potato Planters, a 1936 work, which won first prize at the Hoosier Salon and was exhibited at the Carnegie Institute in 1941. Both works feature hard-working farmers in straw hats standing against the back drop of farm buildings. A critic's commentary about Potato Planters also applies to Farm Mural Study, "the various farm objects take their place effectively in a well-thought-out design. Thus the general effect is not only artistic but . . . the construction of the composition would of itself seem to typify the dignity of labor." Honoring labor was a common theme during the 1930s.

About the Artist

Cecil Head was an Indiana American Scene painter. Together with Floyd Hopper and William Kaeser, Head was the third member of the Market Street Artists in Indianapolis. He studied at the John Herron Art Institute under Forsyth, Wheeler, and Schoonover and attended both Indiana and Purdue Universities. Head is considered one of Indiana’s best Regionalist painters. During the 1930s, he exhibited and won numerous prizes at the Herron Art Institute, the Indiana State Fair, and the Hoosier Salon. Head also exhibited at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington DC, the Swope Gallery in Terre Haute, the Carnegie Institute and at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.


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