Archive for February 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Grant Wood!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by echostains

American Gothic by Grant Wood

Today is the birthday of American artist Grant Wood (b.1891 – 1942 Iowa)   He was one of the triumvirate (three) of the regionalism movement.  This group was formed in the midst of the Great Depression which affected the entire economic world.  The economic decline started about the end of the 1930s and continued until the early 1940s.

Young Corn by Grant Wood

A lot of creative art was undertaken in this period and it is interesting to see how artists dealt with this challenging time through their art and how they channelled that art in different directions.  Wood is particularly famous for his painting ‘American Gothic’ which became a major American icon in the 20th century.

The painting shows a father and his daughter (Wood’s dentist and  sister) standing together against the backdrop of their Carpenter Gothic style home.  The man, who could be a farmer, holds a pitchfork whilst his daughter looks on primly.  The painting has been analysed and parodied many times.  Some said that it criticised small town mentality, but Wood insisted that it showed the American pioneer spirit of the rural town.

Death in the Ridge Road by Grant Wood

Wood started the Stone City Art Colony to help other artist’s through the Depression.  They rejected the city and all it embodied.  They sought through their painting to reassure people in this traumatic time.  Most of their paintings show hope: triumph over adversity.  The other main regionists were Thomas Hart Benton and John Stueart Curry.

Baptism in Kansas by John Steuart Curry

“Paint out of the land, and the people he knows best” (Wood painted what he knew best)

Curry (Kansas) liked to paint the Dustbowls that swept across the Midwest and the survival of the people.

Tornado over Kansas by John Steuart Curry

Hart Benton  (Missouri) tackled issues that directly affected the people like the government and machine versus manual labour.  Regionalism proved very popular reflecting Nationalism.   The paintings were full of hope, and determination.  It is this kind of ‘never say die’ attitude in the face of desperation that people must have found uplifting and reassuring and which I find admirable.

the arts of life in America by Hart Benton

More about Wood’s life HERE

The Great Depression affected the whole economic world.  Read about it HERE

More about American scene painting including Regionalism HERE

PS

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