“All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow” –Grant Wood
Grant DeVolson Wood was born on this day outside Anamosa, Iowa, USA in 1891. today is the 122nd anniversary of his birth.
Growing up on a farm Grant helped with the chores and raised his own goats and poultry. He liked to draw from a young age and used home-made charcoal sticks made of burnt wood from his mother’s stove.His father died when he was 10 and the family moved to Cedar Rapids. He attended Washington High School where he took art, designed scenery for plays and drew for the school paper and yearbook.
After he graduated in 1910, Grant did a lot of different things. He took art classes, taught art, made jewelry, learned carpentry, decorated people’s houses and cared for his mother and his sister Nan….He loved gadgets and making things, and he worked slowly and carefully at all of his crafts. He was even able to use his artistic talent when he joined the army during World War 1. His job was to paint camouflage on tanks and cannons. [Grant Wood Art Gallery]
After the war he traveled to Europe to study the 19th Century French Impressionist. Upon returning to the States he set off on his own style of painting, American Regionalism.
Going back to Iowa, for Grant Wood, was the formative experience in his artistic life. It was the return to his home state that prompted his painting to take a distinctive turn–towards regionalism, towards American subjects, towards the nineteenth century, towards an affectionate and yet ironic vision of his country and its history…[Virginia.edu]
He hit the peak of his popularity during the great depression.
His vision of the American heartland seemed to touch a troubled country deeply; his paintings offered a land that responded to cultivation lusciously rather than blowing away in the tornadoes of the dustbowl, as well as farmers and their families who offered a bounty with round and blushing cheeks. [Ibid]
He started the Stone City Art Colony and Art School with Adrian Dornbush and Edward Rowan in 1932. With the help of the Public Works of Art Project and the Civil Works Administration Grant employed many of the artist who lived at the Colony to produce murals in public buildings like court houses and post offices.
He taught painting at University of Iowa from 1934 -1941.
Wood died of pancreatic cancer on February 12 in 1942.—————————————————————–
Grant used his sister Nan and their family dentist as subjects for his famous painting, American Gothic. The image has been updated and satired endlessly. Here are a few examples…
from soldiers and airline workers
to just plain weird stuff…