American Gothic

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."

American Gothic, Oil on Beaver Board, 30 3/4" x 25 3/4", 1930

Signed and dated lower right on overalls: GRANT / WOOD / 1930
Friends of American Art Collection, 1930.934, Art Institute of Chicago

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.

American Gothic is arguably Grant Wood's most famous painting, and certainly one of the most easily recognized works in the entire American art canon. Professor Kerry Dean Carso (State University of New York, New Paltz) turns her attention not to the serious pair in the foreground—modeled by Wood's sister, Nan Wood Graham, and his dentist, Byron McKeeby—but rather to the Victorian structure behind them, with its Gothic-style window. In her presentation, Prof. Carso delves into "Wood's participation in the Victorian Revival through an examination of his attitudes towards vernacular architecture and Gothic and Gothic Revival architecture generally, arguing that Wood did not view Midwestern Victorian cottages as importations from English architecture (which they were), but as uniquely American adaptations of medieval European Gothic church architecture."

Art Institute of Chicago

This page was first displayed
on October 25, 2016

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