Grant Wood was born in Anamosa, Iowa (three miles from Stone City) in 1891 and there he lived the first ten years of his life. He loved farm animals, raised chickens, ducks and turkeys and learned the names of birds and wildflowers. He went to a one- room schoolhouse and later even taught in one. His sixth-grade teacher kept some of his early works because he showed remarkable ability. At age ten, after his father died, Wood moved from the farm to Cedar Rapids.

When Wood was a grown man he went to art school and traveled to Europe. He made his boyhood memories the themes for his painting that would make him one of America’s leading Regionalist artists. He once said he had to go to France to appreciate Iowa.

In the 1930’s times were hard and there was a period of drought and the Depression. Wood reacted by painting what people needed and wanted: nostalgic, reassuring scenes showing clean fields, pure surroundings and the happier times he remembered from his childhood. He always based his work on observation and research of old mid-western maps and atlases, prints, old family photos and line drawings in Sears Catalogs.

After serving in World War I, he started an artists’ colony in Stone City and taught art in the public schools of Cedar Rapids and finally at the University of Iowa.

American Gothic, a painting of his sister Nan and his dentist standing in front of a white house, has become one of the most popular and easily recognized works in American Art.

Though Wood passed away at age fifty, in 1942, national recognition came to him during his lifetime.

STONE CITY, IOWA - When Wood was a boy, he said that “cornfields in spring look like black comforters tied in green yarn.” In this painting he shows those cornfields in the foreground as well as other clean smooth surfaces. This rural scene is full of patterns and orderly details that cover the almost geometrically rounded shapes. A tiny farmer walks to the barn, a horseman rides toward the bridge and neat little chickens peck at the ground. The Wapsipinicon River bends through the valley while the road crosses the bridge and winds over the hills to the horizon.

Wood painted this landscape during his most productive years, and it set a style he continued to refine for the rest of his life. He wanted to make his decorative paintings modern as well as mid-western-American in character.


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