Grant Wood: A Life

2010

Grant Wood was best known for his 1930 iconic painting, American Gothic. He was born to Quaker parents on the eve of Valentine’s Day 1891, in the small rural town of Anamosa, Iowa, about thirty miles from Cedar Rapids. He was named after Ulysses S. Grant. Grant’s father, a farmer, disapproved of his art while his mother supported and encouraged his interest. Grant was ten years old when his father died. His death freed him to become an artist. In the 1920s Wood studied art in Paris, explored his homosexual leanings, and adopted the bohemian lifestyle as an impressionist painter. His return to Iowa brought a style change toward the regionalist school of art and focus on the “cast of characters that includes sturdy farmers, long-suffering mothers, and acid-tongued spinsters we encounter in Wood’s later work.” Wood adopted overalls as his uniform, perhaps to appease the memory of his father. His work had the folksy common touch that glorified Midwestern American scenery and personalities.

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