Grant Wood

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The art world can never forget the iconic portrait of ‘American Gothic’ nor the master artists who made it; it was none other than Grant Wood who breathed new life in the meaning of regionalism in art. The American artist was much loved and respected for his use of reinstating regionalism during a time where America was deeply hit with the depression. Wood excelled at showing normal events of farm life and everyday life in an American household. Having been raised on a farm, he credited that to his inspiration of all the farm life paintings he produced. He used that time period from his life as a means of inspiration for some of his most iconic paintings. Wood was a very open spokesperson for Regionalism art, thanks to the instant fame and recognition his painting American Gothic received and a small scale art colony which he ran which taught the concepts of regionalist art. He also wrote extensively on Regionalism in numerous art journals and magazine which also received a lot of attention.

Grant Devolson Wood was born in 1891 on a small farm in Anamosa, Iowa. Wood showed an interest towards art from a very young age, but thought he would end up working as a farmer just like his father. Wood’s childhood memories of growing up on a farm played a large role in inspiring the painter’s unique artistic style and was also the inspiration for many of his masterpieces. After finishing high school Wood enrolled in a small art school and then moved onto School of Art Institute of Chicago.  Side by side studying art he also taught art, worked as a silversmith, designed jewellery, did carpentry and designed houses for people to make a living to support his family. He eventually left to take trips to Paris and Munich where he was exposed to the varying European styles of art.  From his time there Wood realized what he wanted to paint were simple things which hold value for him and life in general. He wasn’t interested in painting landscapes or wild life or scenes on a street – the simplicity of farm life lured him like anything. Wood eventually returned to his home state and started painting vigorously. Wood is credited for not only re-introducing the concept of Regionalism back into the art world but giving it a national audience and legitimacy as well. One of his masterpieces includes the quaint painting titled Woman with Plants, which was in fact a painting of his mother holding a plant outdoors on a farm. The simple yet strong female represents the ultimate frontier woman, who has seen the harsh realities of life but still remains strong and wilful. It is powerful painting showcasing the American Midwest and it touched people because it came from an artist who really knew what it was like growing up there.

Wood’s best known work is of course the American Gothic which has been a prominent painting seen in various magazines, news articles, on TV and in many movies as well. The painting features a farmer and his daughter both clad in typical farm attire standing against the backdrop of a farm and their eccentric yet strangely unique farmhouse. The painting won Grant Wood third prize at the Art Institute of Chicago and firmly put him on the map as one of America’s most influential artists.

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