Young Corn

The Grant Wood Art Colony

Grant Wood (1891-1942) helped develop the Stone City Art Colony in Stone City, Iowa, which operated during the summers of 1932 and 1933. The Grant Wood Art Colony, under the direction of the School of Art and Art History at UIowa, honors Wood's belief in the importance of art colonies by offering the Grant Wood Fellowship program and organizing a biennial symposium.

This week, The Daily Palette is celebrating Grant Wood by featuring five of his most famous paintings, each matched with the theme of a paper being presented at this year's Grant Wood Symposium, on October 28th and 29th. This year's theme: "Myth, Memories, and the Midwest: Grant Wood and Beyond."

Young Corn, oil on Masonite panel, 24" x 29 7/8", 1931

Collection of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, on loan to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

Grant Wood was born in Anamosa, Iowa, and trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Academie Julian in Paris, France. He taught art in the public schools of Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1919 to 1924 and at the University of Iowa from 1935 to 1940. He is one of the major figures in American Regionalism, sharing this distinct status with Thomas Hart Benton and John Stewart Curry. The Regionalist artists reflected the isolationist attitudes of the country between World War I and World War II. This was evident in the art world as well as in politics. The artists of this historical style were rebelling against Modernist art, which was seen as elitist, foreign-influenced, and not representative of the American experience. The art produced during this period was socially-conscious, but was nationalistic and chauvinistic about life in America.

Young Corn is one of Wood's many lovely renderings of the gently rolling Iowa landscape. He created this painting at a time when the majority of American artists were celebrating the Machine Age, painting cityscapes replete with sharp edges and straight lines preferred among Modernists. Wood chose instead to craft landscapes that celebrate the fertile Iowa farmland, paintings where the natural world both dominates and embraces the farmer who dares to try to tame her. Volumes have been written about the fecundity of Grant Wood's landscape paintings, but Prof. Jason Weems (Associate Professor of American art and visual culture at the University of California, Riverside) takes a different tack in his paper, "Grant Wood's Regionalist Camouflage." In this presentation, Prof. Weems considers the connection between Wood's work painting camouflage during WWI and his highly stylized landscape paintings, suggesting that "the artist's Midwestern mythology . . . might best be understood as a mode of cultural camouflage—a subterfuge that hid the anxieties of modernist transformation in plain sight."

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

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