Sunday, February 13, 2011

120th Anniversary of Grant Wood's Birth

The 120th anniversary of the birth of artist Grant Wood [1891-1941] is today; born in Anamosa, Iowa on February 13, 1891, Wood died one day short of age 51 in Iowa City, where he had become a professor of art at the University of Iowa. Best known for "American Gothic (1930)," Wood is still widely admired and studied, with books such as American Gothic: The Biography of Grant Wood's American Masterpiece and Grant Wood: A Life appearing in recent years.

Although Wood worked successfully in a variety of media, the iconic American Gothic--parodied countless times, as a perfunctory web search will reveal--tends to overwhelm consideration of his work as a whole. The original painting, of course, is best viewed in person at the Art Institute of Chicago, which awarded Wood the Harris Bronze Medal at the 43th Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculptures. American Gothic was also acquired by the Institute, for $300.

As an aside, the Common Curator had the good fortune to have an early solo exhibition of paintings at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum overlap with one featuring Grant Wood (and his contemporary and friend, Marvin Cone; see announcement above). While American Gothic was not then on display--it only rarely leaves Chicago--it was nonetheless a great honor to temporarily share the walls of the museum with Wood.

A memento of Wood's artistry, incidentally, is readily available to all in the form of a U.S. 25-cent piece. The State of Iowa utilized Wood's 1932 painting, Arbor Day, to design its entry in the U.S. state quarters series (below).

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