Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Artist of the Week: Grant Wood

Grant Wood painted simple scenes of the land and people he knew best. Wood was an active painter from an extremely young age until his death, and although he is best known for his paintings, he worked in a large number of media, including lithography, ink, charcoal, ceramics, metal, wood and found objects. Grant Wood is most closely associated with the American movement of Regionalism that was primarily situated in the Midwest, and advanced figurative painting of rural American themes in an aggressive rejection of European abstraction He helped create an important, all-American style of art. Grant Wood’s paintings show the love he had for the people and customs of the Midwestern United States. Grant Wood particularly loved the farmland of Iowa.

From 1920 to 1928 Grant Wood made four trips to Europe, where he studied many styles of painting, especially impressionism and post-impressionism. But it was the work of Jan Van Eyck that influenced him to take on the clarity of this new technique and to incorporate it in his new works. From 1924 to 1935 Wood lived in the loft of a carriage house that he turned into his personal studio at "5 Turner Alley" (the studio had no address until Wood made one up himself). In 1932, Wood helped found the Stone City Art Colony near his hometown to help artists get through the Great Depression. Grant Wood became a great proponent of regionalism in the arts, lecturing throughout the country on the topic.

Grant Wood's best known work is his 1930 painting American Gothic,(shown above) which is also one of the most famous paintings in American art, and one of the few images to reach the status of cultural icon, along with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch's The Scream. It was first exhibited in 1930 at the Art Institute of Chicago where it can still be found today; It was given a 300 dollar prize and made news stories country-wide, bringing the artist immediate recognition.

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