The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse


The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse


Gene Logsdon


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When Gene Logsdon realized that he experienced the same creative joy from farming as he did from writing, he suspected that agriculture itself was a form of art. Thus began his search for the origins of the artistic impulse in the agrarian lifestyle. This book is the culmination of Logsdon's journey, his account of friendships with farmers and artists driven by the urge to create. It chronicles his long relationship with Wendell Berry and talks about how he discovered the playful humor of several new agrarian writers. It reveals insights gleaned from conversations with Andrew Wyeth and his family of artists. Through his association with musicians such as Willie Nelson and his involvement with Farm Aid, Logsdon learns how music—blues, jazz, country, and even rock and roll—is also rooted in agriculture. It sheds new light on the work of rural painters, writers, and musicians and suggests that their art could be created only by those who work intimately with the land. Unlike the gritty realism or abstract expressionism often favored by contemporary critics, agrarian art evokes familiar feelings of community and comfort. Most importantly, the book demonstrates that diminishing the connection between art and nature lessens the social and aesthetic value of both. It also explores these cultural connections and traces the development of a new agrarian culture that it states will eventually replace the model brought about by the industrial revolution.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY





Farming, Agriculture, Agrarian lifestyle, Farmers, Artists, Wendell Berry, Andrew Wyeth, Farm Aid, Willie Nelson, Agrarian art


Cultural History | History