Friday, September 19, 2008

Artist: Grant Wood (1891-1942)

Welcome to another Art Friday at my blog. Once a week I devote a post to art in some way, shape, or form. Most often, I showcase a work of art or an artist. Sometimes, I call attention to a museum or product that is art-related.

Today I'm featuring the work of American painter, Grant Wood, the creator of this iconic image, American Gothic (1930.)

In 1930, he noticed a small white house built in Carpenter Gothic architecture in Eldon, Iowa. Wood decided to paint the house along with "the kind of people I fancied should live in that house. He recruited his sister Nan to model the woman, dressing her in a colonial print apron mimicking 19th century Americana. The man is modeled on Wood's dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby. Each element was painted separately; the models sat separately and never stood in front of the house.

Wood entered the painting in a competition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The judges deemed it a "comic valentine," but a museum patron convinced them to award the painting the bronze medal and $300 cash prize. The patron also convinced the Institute to buy the painting, where it remains today. The image soon began to be reproduced in newspapers, however, Wood received a backlash when the image finally appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Iowans were furious at their depiction as "pinched, grim-faced, puritanical Bible-thumpers". One farmwife threatened to bite Wood's ear off. Wood protested that he had not painted a caricature of Iowans but a depiction of Americans. Nan, apparently embarrassed at being depicted as the wife of someone twice her age, began telling people that the painting was of a man and his daughter, a point on which Wood remained silent. (Snipped from Wikipedia)

Now, I don't really care for American Gothic that much. I much prefer his landscapes, such as this one, called Near Sundown (1933). Or the one below it, Haying (1939). I just love the puffy trees. They are so lyrical and otherworldly. And the tiny convoy in the distance...I wonder who is travelling and where they're going.

This one, Young Corn (1931), has a special significance to me personally, but I'll hit on that a week from next Friday. Again, those trees are just so fun to look at, and while that may be corn, I don't notice it as much as that hill. I look at that and I can't help but think that the Earth is pregnant. I want to just rub that swollen belly.

If you'd like to see more of Wood's work, go to this wonderful page called Going Back to Iowa: The World of Grant Wood.

Or this one, The Grant Wood Art Gallery.



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