Happy Birthday Grant Wood!

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


8 Responses to “Happy Birthday Grant Wood!”

  1. these all have a dark aspect to them.
    i suppose that drawing on the economic depession, they would be

  2. The Death Ridge one in particularl shows how the countryside is being eroded by speed ‘progress’ and how death is just around the corner. These were hard times and the regionists were convinced that hard work would overcome all – which it did thank God!

  3. Thanks for this post, Lynda.I have always liked Woods’s landscapes. I always remember his style because he made his trees like popcorn-berry-bubble shapes.LOL I find them interesting and fun and full of good compositional guidelines.

  4. They are so tidy and neat Leslie – I would love to live in a world like ‘Corn Fields’. or ‘Fall Plowing’. I love his celebration of Mother’ Earth – so reassuring in what must have been a turbulent time. A lost way of life

  5. I just discovered John Steuart Curry and so far I find his work really interesting.

    • The Regionists were a great group of artists and their social commentary is much valued. My favorite one is Grant Wood but I do find paintings like ‘Baptism in Kansas’ by Curry very thought provoking too.

  6. Carol C. Says:

    Hope everyone can see the MO state capital where T. H. Benton painted his murals inside. Please go!

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