Monday, April 30, 2018

I Had No Idea How Much I like Grant Wood, the Artist

The Whitney Museum of Art (which is a beautiful building - but usually a dud of an Art Museum for me) had a show about Grant Wood.  If you are like me, you don't know him until someone says American Gothic and you go... "oh yeah..".

Well, American Gothic bores the hell out of me, but a friend loved the show so Ed and I went.  Turns out, I LOVE Grant Wood. His stuff was fantastic - but I still don't like American Gothic.

He was born in Iowa, trained in Paris and had only minor success before American Gothic was shown at a show in Chicago. In Iowa he painted some murals including American Legion Halls and the picture below for a Home Sales Company.  Even early I love his trees.

If you want to read more about him - link.



He was a closeted gay man, who never married. (Sometimes I think giving gay men art as their only outlet lead to some amazing art.) The picture below is of a young man crossing into adulthood.


The imagery is interesting. The young nude bathers suggest his time as an adolescent, along with flowering trees. The river represents the crossing into manhood, with the reaping of crops signifying work. Apparently the butterfly is the universal art-world signifier of metamorphosis.

He also did a few illustrations of Americana Myths - including George Washington and the Cherry tree. To signify it is a fable, he has a man pulling back a stage curtain on the story.


Paul Revere's ride (that is Paul in the lower left)


He also painted Herbert Hoover's birthplace, in the picture below I absolutely love, but Herbert sent back.

The man points out the back house where President Hoover was born. Look at the trees!!!

Finally he moved on to almost an Americana Noir look, before WWII.

Death on Ridge Road - 1935.  Heart of the Depression - even the energy lines look like headstones..


His paintings in the 1940s, before his death, served to idolize the American Way of Life vs. the rule of Nazis at the beginning of WW II. He died at age 51 in 1942.




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