The Whitney Museum show Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables, the most extensive retrospective of Wood’s work ever presented, has just ended, and still the questions remain about both the artist and his art. American Gothic is one of America’s most recognizable paintings, but Wood’s large body of work and his life story, are unfamiliar to most.
Grant Wood’s Deceptive Overalls
Grant Wood was born in the small Iowa town of Anamosa in 1891. When his father died, in 1901, the family moved to Cedar Rapids. Wood’s artistic talent was apparent at an early age. He was not only skilled at painting and drawing, but also at creating decorative work in metal and wood. Wood apprenticed in a metal work shop and then, after completing high school, he studied at The Handicraft Guild, a school in Minneapolis run by women, and, in 1913, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Wood made several trips to Europe in the 1920s to study painting. He lived in Cedar Rapids, in a house with his mother, where he set up a studio. During the Depression, Wood founded the Stone City Art Colony to help artists work during the difficult financial crisis, taught painting at the University of Iowa’s School of Art and became a staunch proponent of Regionalism.
Grant Wood could be seen around town, wearing overalls, a uniform that hid his erudite side.
A Master Craftsman
What the Whitney show was able to do, was to showcase Wood’s talent as superb artist and masterful craftsman, who was generous to his students, friends and peers.
He focused on everyday scenes of rural Iowa, even though he was strongly influenced by the courtly art of Dutch Renaissance painter, Jan van Eyck. Unlike van Eyck, however, Wood was truly a Renaissance Man, who was able to work in a variety of media and could blend into a substantial array of social settings.
Wood’s work was exceptional, whether he was working in oil, ink, charcoal, ceramics, glass, metal wood or lithography.
His work became even more elegant towards the end of his life, at a time when the country was embroiled in World War ll. His paintings and lithographs during that time were streamlined and restrained.
Although best known for American Gothic, his body of work was much grander than that one painting.
The Work of Grant Wood at the Surovek Gallery
Some of Grant Wood’s late, and finest, works are available at the Surovek Gallery. Please contact us if you would like more information about July 15, 1938, January, 1938 or any of the other fine works available at the Surovek Gallery.