Not on view
Oil and tempera on canvas
Overall: 29 13/16 × 39 15/16in. (75.7 × 101.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase
Rights and reproductions
© artist or artist’s estate
Depicting a stripped wheat field amid a barren landscape, Joe Jones’s American Farm dramatizes the disastrous effect of the Great Depression on the nation’s heartland and champions the resiliency of its farmers. The painting is one of a group produced under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration, which employed artists on government projects during the Depression; Jones was commissioned to record drought conditions on American farms. Although the land pictured in American Farm is gouged by soil erosion, Jones did not intend this painting to be an accurate historical record. Instead, Jones cast the Midwestern farmer in the role of Noah, with the farm perched like the ark atop Mount Ararat after the Flood. The barn and windmill, overlooking a ravaged landscape, have survived disaster, while the sun, barely peeking through gloomy clouds, hints at a continued faith in the endurance of American farm life.