Grant Wood, best known as the hand behind American Gothic, was one of the preeminent figures of American Regionalism, a movement that emerged in America’s Midwest and Deep South during the Great Depression. His works translate the everyday, American farm life that Wood grew up with in Iowa into complex and meticulous oil paintings that both warp perspective and emphasize detail. Wood traveled in Europe early in his career, and was greatly influenced by the minute details of Northern Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck. He was also exposed to the avant-garde, dark, critical works of Germany’s Neue Sachlichkeit painters. Wood stands as a contradictory and enigmatic figure for art historians, who cannot decide if his works laud small town American culture, or if they critique it with the internal resentment of a closeted gay artist exposed to the liberal, city cultures of America’s East Coast and Europe.
Why Is This Famous?: American Gothic
In our series Why Is This Famous?, we aim to answer the unanswerable: How does a work actually enter the public consciousnes…