April 6, 2018

POSTED BY

Julia Fish

CATEGORY

Grant Wood: More than Just American Gothic

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© Whitney Now on view at the Whitney: Corn Cob Chandelier for Iowa Corn Room, c. 1925–26 by Grant Wood. Have you ever heard of him? He’s the guy that painted American Gothic and also the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Whitney called “Grant Wood: American Gothic and …

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© Whitney

Now on view at the Whitney: Corn Cob Chandelier for Iowa Corn Room, c. 1925–26 by Grant Wood. Have you ever heard of him? He’s the guy that painted American Gothic and also the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Whitney called “Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables.” American Gothic is, as promised, displayed, but I found the most memorable piece of the exhibition to be the chandelier adorned with corn.

Ah, Grant Wood. The New York Times absolutely bashed not just the exhibition but Grant Wood himself.

“This scattered retrospective reveals an artist who took few risks or became self-knowing enough to reach maturity, who was easily distracted from and too conservative in his painting. Greatness remained beyond his reach and some of his painting and drawings are truly awful, steeped in pious nostalgia and American nativism.”

– Roberta Smith for the New York Times

Wood’s works have a wide range. He dabbled in the decorative arts and for some time painted in a style he called “europy” before landing on his style of American Regionalism. Many of his paintings idealize his memories of Midwestern Farm Life. Wood created many pieces in response to the political climate and his fear that America couldn’t defend itself against fascism.

“Faced with Nazi victories over the Allies in the first years of World War II, Wood turned his attention to depicting what he called the ‘simple, everyday things that make life significant to the average person’ in order to awaken the country to what it stood to lose”

– The Whitney

I visited the Whitney last weekend and I don’t know if I could fully agree with the ever so wittily written review by Ms. Smith, although I did find a striking similarity between some of Wood’s murals and the murals in Pawnee’s town hall from the ever wonderful show Parks and Recreation.  Nonetheless, I must give Grant Wood the credit he deserves. American Gothic is one of, if not the most, recognizable and iconic pieces of American Art; some of his paintings are truly beautiful, and never have I seen a chandelier more regionally identifiable to the Midwest as his. If you have the time, it is definitely worth the visit.

“Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables” will on display at the Whitney until May 10th.

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A “Europey- style” painting
“Marketplace, Nuremberg” by Grant Wood ©Whitney Museum of American Art.
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Stone City ©Whitney Museum of American Art
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American Gothic ©Whitney Museum of American Art.