Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grant Wood Sketchbook Returns to Figge Art Museum

Missing for several decades, a sketchbook by world-renowned Iowa artist Grant Wood [1891-1942] was recently reclaimed by the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. Part of a collection acquired in 1965 from Wood's sister, Nan Wood Graham, the sketchbook contains notes and plans for the stained glass window he designed for the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids in 1928.

The window depicts soldiers in privates' uniforms from the six major U.S. wars up to that time: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the First World War; the soldiers are surmounted by a large female figure said to represent the Republic. To oversee the fabrication of the window directly, Wood travelled to Munich, Germany, one of several trips to Europe he made early in his career.

The recovered sketchbook is thought to have been stolen shortly after its acquisition by the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, the Figge's predecessor. Andrew Wallace, the Figge's current Manager of Collections and Exhibitions, was instrumental in researching the loss of the sketchbook and in negotiating its return after it was slated for auction. More information on this fortunate turn of events can be found in an article in the Quad-City Times.

Much of Grant Wood's personal archive has been digitized. The University of Iowa hosts the Figge Art Museum Grant Wood Digital Collection and several dozen images have been digitized by the Archives of American Art in their Grant Wood Collection, 1930-1983.

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is home to the world's largest collection of Grant Wood artwork, and features the Grant Wood Gallery. Curious individuals can discover more about Wood's life and times by visiting stops along Iowa's Grant Wood Trail. American Gothic, Wood's iconic masterpiece painted in 1930, is housed in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Note: Top image is from the Quad-City Times; bottom image is from the Veterans Memorial Building. A previous Common Curator post of related interest is the 120th Anniversary of Grant Wood's Birth.

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