As an American Regionalist painter and printmaker, Grant Wood and his artwork are especially tied to the land of Iowa. He was born on a small farm three miles outside of Anamosa, Iowa in 1891. In a letter Wood wrote in 1938, he fondly remembered his childhood in rural Iowa:
“Anamosa has always held a very warm place in my heart. Jones County is a region of uncommon natural beauty and of fine, sturdy people. I am proud to have been born there, and cannot today go through the Anamosa and Stone City country without having awakened memories and affections that extend back into earliest childhood.”
His love of Iowa is evident in the artistic inspiration he took from the landscape and the people.
However, Wood did not live in Iowa his whole life, nor did he set out to become a regionalist painter. In the 1910s and 1920s, during a time he referred to as his “bohemian” years, Wood took art classes in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Paris. He planned to become a modernist painter. He was able to hold several exhibitions in Cedar Rapids, IA, were he lived while not abroad. However it was in 1928, while in Munich, Germany, where he was influenced by the descriptive nature of fifteenth and sixteenth century northern European painters that he began to formulate his own style; one denoted by tight compositional construction and voluminous forms overlaid with surface details.
From 1929 to his death in 1942, Grant Wood produced his famous Regionalist works while living in Iowa. His most famous painting is American Gothic (1930)—the portrait of a fictional farmer and his daughter in front of a white farm-house in Eldon, IA. During this time Wood stayed busy with other responsibilities as well: founded and instructed at the art colony in Stone City, IA, headed Iowa’s Public Works Art Program, and taught art at the University of Iowa. He is buried in Anamosa, Iowa.
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