I recently read a NY Times book review of a new biography of Grant Wood, most famously known for [and perhaps limited by] his iconic portrait of a farm couple, American Gothic.
I was surprised to learn that in his own time he was denigrated as a 'regionalist' and a ' progragandist for conservative values.' He was, to me absurdly, 'accused of fostering a shrill nationalism that was actually compared to the unalloyed evil of the Third Reich. After the war, the art historian H. W. Janson asserted that “the Regionalist credo could be matched more or less verbatim from the writings of Nazi experts on art.” In 1962, when Janson published his now classic textbook on the history of Western art, he made no mention of Wood.'
In all this, I got book of Grant Wood from the library, [Grant Wood - The Regionalist Vision, Wanda Corn] and was astounded to discover many instances of art that, to me, moved far from the categories of 'regionalist' and 'representational' to a wonderfully skewed, and at times surreal touch. Some of which I'd like to share here.
Return from Bohemia - did the clan haunt him and call him home?
My favorite, Death on Ridge Road
Plaid Sweater - I love his truculent expression
His sister, NanWood - I love the Chicken & Egg touch
Woman with Plants
The reviewer quoted Grant Wood as saying, 'All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while was milking a cow.' The reviewer stated this as 'somewhat goofily, Wood's most famous statement.' I thought that the reviewer probably has never milked a cow, because I could readily see how in the rhythm and focus of milking, the 'back processor' is free to roam and yes, 'really good ideas' could easily emerge.