Green Tractors in Art

October  17, 2013

     "Humanize the tractor" - that was the order from Deere and Company to a Chicago artist 90 years ago. And his effort will be on display at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport starting Saturday. "Walter Haskell Hinton - Image Maker for Deere" will be open until February. 

     Figge executive director Tim Schiffer says 35 of Hinton's paintings are featured - many were used for calendars in the 1930's and 40's.

     "Hinton's works are from the 30's but instead of being about the Depression and the gloomier side of things, he portrayed a very cheerful side which was the new world of farming with the tractor that was kind of a new invention in the 20's."

     He says Deere hired Hinton at a very emotional time for farmers - they were replacing their work horses with tractors.

     "They were trading them in for this machine that really was new technology and it was thought of as kind of heartless. So Hinton's job was to make the green tractor look like it was part of the family."

     And he sees hints of both Normal Rockwell and Grant Wood in Hinton's works. Schiffer also says the paintings are the fore-runner of today's advertising - using psychology and visual images to sell products.

     The works are on loan from the Deere and Company art collection.