- Also known as
primary name: Wood, Grant
- individual; painter/draughtsman; printmaker; American (USA); Male
- Life dates
- Wood was born on a farm near Anamosa, Iowa, but after his father's death in 1901 his family moved to the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After attending the Minneapolis School of Design and Handicraft in 1910, he took night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago while working in a silversmith's shop from 1914 until 1916. After serving as a camouflage painter in the US Army, Wood taught art at public schools in Cedar Rapids from 1919.
Between 1920 and 1928 he made four trips to Europe, where he briefly attended the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1928 Wood travelled to Munich to supervise the making of a large stained-glass window he had designed for the Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial Building. At the Alte Pinakothek in Munich he responded strongly to the paintings of Dürer, and especially Hans Memling, with their sharp outlines, luminous colour and smooth finish. These stylistic features entered Wood's own paintings of rural Iowa subjects, culminating in his most famous work, American Gothic, 1930 (Art Institute of Chicago), which was immediately acclaimed as an icon of American art and launched his career.
In 1932 Wood and fellow artists established the Stone City Art Colony near Anamosa, Iowa, with the ambition of making art expressive of the Midwest, but the colony only lasted two years. In 1934 he was appointed Director of the Public Works of Art Project in Iowa and began making murals for the Iowa State University Library, Ames. In 1934, when his reputation was at its height, he was appointed associate professor of fine art at the University of Iowa, but his prescriptive teaching methods and his perceived anti-liberalism were criticized by both students and faculty staff. From 1940-41 he took leave of absence and ceased printmaking; soon afterwards he was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1942, aged fifty-one.
In all he made nineteen lithographs between 1937 and 1940 printed by George Miller in New York from stones which the artist had worked on and sent to him from Iowa. The prints were published and distributed by Associated American Artists, with the exception of Family Doctor, 1940 (Cole18) which was distributed by Abbott Laboratories, a Chicago pharmaceutical company. A set of four flower-piece lithographs was hand-coloured by Wood's sister (C.7-10).
Complete collections of Wood's lithographs are held by the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, and by the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, Iowa.
- Sylvan Cole with Susan Teller, 'Grant Wood: The Lithographs. A Catalogue Raisonné', New York: Associated American Artists, 1984
Wanda M. Corn, 'Grant Wood: The Regionalist Vision', exh. cat., New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1983
Joseph S. Czestochowski, 'John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood: A Portrait of America', Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, with the Cedar Rapids Art Association, 1981