Grant Wood’s Menacing, Mesmerizing Portrait of Rural America
Image rights: © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph by Mark Tade, 2005
Coe College, Permanent Art Collection, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; gift of the Eugene C. Eppley Foundation.
Seminal Regionalist painter Grant Wood captured Depression Era rural America with a nostalgic, earnest honesty of expression. The Iowa painter's prolific career and diverse body of work evolved from Impressionist influences to increasingly realist portrait and landscape compositions that exhibit both flexibility and control of technique. Psychological candor and enigmatic loneliness inflect Wood’s work, which documents the convergence of modernist ideas and his Midwestern surroundings. Wood’s American Gothic (1930) is perhaps the most highly recognizable, reproduced, and referenced work of 20th century American art, and a seminal work of realist painting. Wood’s straightforward style of representation is restrained, almost flat, creating a taut surface in contrast to the underlying subtle persistence of emotion.