Grant Wood  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Grant Wood, born Grant DeVolson Wood (February 13, 1891February 12, 1942) was an American painter, born in Anamosa, Iowa. He is best known for his painting American Gothic (1930), one of the most familiar images in 20th century American art.



His family moved to Cedar Rapids after his father died in 1901. Soon thereafter he began as an apprentice in a local metal shop. After graduating from Washington High School (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) , Wood enrolled in art school in Minneapolis in 1910, and returned a year later to teach in a one-room schoolhouse. In 1913 he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago and did some work as a silversmith. He again returned to Cedar Rapids to teach Junior High students after serving in the army as a camouflage painter. From 1920 to 1928 he made four trips to Europe, where he studied many styles of painting, especially impressionism. But it was the work of Jan Van Eyck that influenced him to take on the clarity of this new technique and to incorporate it in his new works. From 1924 to 1935 Wood lived in the loft of a carriage house that he turned into his personal studio at "5 Turner Alley" (the studio had no address until Wood made one up himself). In 1932, Wood helped found the Stone City Art Colony near his hometown to help artists get through the Great Depression. He became a great proponent of regionalism in the arts, lecturing throughout the country on the topic.

Wood taught painting at the University of Iowa's School of Art beginning in 1934, prompting his move to Iowa City. During that time, he supervised mural painting projects, mentored students, produced a variety of his own works, and became a key part of the University's cultural community. On February 12, 1942, one day before his 51st birthday, Wood died at the university hospital.

His work

Wood was an active painter from an extremely young age until his death, and although he is best known for his paintings, he worked in a large number of media, including ink, charcoal, ceramics, metal, wood and found objects.

Throughout his life he hired out his talents to many Iowa-based businesses as a steady source of income. This included painting advertisements, sketching rooms of a mortuary house for promotional flyers and, in one case, designing the corn-themed decor (including chandelier) for the dining room of a hotel. In addition, his 1928 trip to Munich was to oversee the making of the stained-glass windows he had designed for a Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids.

Wood's best known work is his 1930 painting American Gothic, one of the most familiar images in 20th century American art. The painting was first exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago where it can still be found today. Today, the painting is often parodied in pop culture, and remains one of the most notable examples of American Regionalism. Wood is considered the patron artist of Cedar Rapids, and one of his designs is depicted on the 2004 Iowa State Quarter.

Works by Wood


  • Adolescence (1933)
  • American Gothic (1930)
  • Appraisal (1931)
  • Arbor Day (1932)
  • Arnold Comes of Age (1930)
  • Birthplace of Herbert Hoover (1931)
  • Boy Milking Cow (1932)
  • Daughters of Revolution (1932)
  • Death on Ridge Road (1935)
  • Dinner for Threshers (1934)
  • Fall Plowing (1931)
  • Haying (1939)
  • Iowa Cornfield (1941)
  • January (1940)
  • The Little Chapel Chancelade (1926)
  • The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931)
  • Near Sundown (1933)
  • New Road (1939)
  • Parson Weems' Fable (1939)
  • Plaid Sweater (1931)
  • Portrait of Nan (1933)
  • Return from Bohemia (1935)
  • Seedtime and Harvest (1937)
  • Self-Portrait (1932)
  • Spotted Man (1924)
  • Stone City, Iowa (1930)
  • Sultry Night (1937)
  • Woman with Plants (1929)
  • Young Corn (1931)


  • Wood, Grant. "Art in the Daily Life of the Child." Rural America, March 1940, 7-9.
  • ———. Revolt against the City. Iowa City: Clio Press, 1935.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Grant Wood" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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