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Grant Wood

founder of the Stone City Art Colony and School

Grant Wood

Grant Wood was born on a small farm outside Anamosa, Iowa, on February 13, 1891. In 1901, following the death of his father, his mother moved the family to Cedar Rapids, where he attended school and did odd jobs to help his mother support the family. After graduating from Washington High School in 1910, he left for Minneapolis to study wood and metal techniques with Ernest Batchelder. That fall he began pursuing a teaching degree at the University of Iowa, while learning carpentry and painting. He enlisted in the Army during World War I but never saw any military action. After the war, Grant earned his teaching credentials and then taught art at Jackson Junior High (1919-1922) and at McKinley High School (1922-1925), both in Cedar Rapids. He also spent four summers traveling in Europe, where he was influenced by the German primitives movement in Munich and saw the possibilities of painting the commonplace as something significant.

In 1926, Wood opened the Fine Arts Studio Group in Cedar Rapids and began renting space to some of the city's most talented musicians and artists, as well as offering studios, drama and painting classes. In 1928, with support from the Cedar Rapids Art Association and the Carnegie Foundation, Wood launched the Little Gallery, a Midwestern experiment in art education that brought many nationally known artists to Iowa. This experiment grew into the Stone City Art Colony and School, an artists' colony in eastern Iowa, which Wood operated from 1932 to 1933.

By the summer of 1934, Wood was an associate professor of art at the University of Iowa and director of all Iowa Works Progress Administration art projects. That same year he also gathered a team of artists and began to design murals for Parks Library at Iowa State University. In February 1936, Grant Wood married Sara Sherman Maxon, a light opera singer from Cedar Rapids. The couple made their home in Iowa City until their divorce in September 1939. After the divorce, Wood focused on his art -- lithography, book illustration, interior decorating, carpentry, metalwork, and painting -- and opened a studio in Clear Lake, Iowa. He died of liver cancer on February 12, 1942.

His Major Works

Grant Wood held his first one-man shows in New York City and Chicago in April of 1935. Among his most recognized works are:

Woman with Plants (1929), a study of his mother, Hattie
Stone City, Iowa (1930)
American Gothic (1930), featuring his sister, Nan Wood Graham, and his Cedar Rapids dentist, Dr. Byron H. McKeeby
American Gothic
Arnold Comes of Age (1930), a portrait of Arnold Pyle
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931)
Fall Plowing (1931)
Young Corn (1931)
Daughters of Revolution (1932), a satire on the DAR's opinion of his recent Cedar Rapids stained glass commission, the Veterans Memorial Window
Self-Portrait (1932)
Arbor Day (1932)
Dinner for Threshers (1934)
Return from Bohemia (1935)
Parson Weem's Fable (1939), a depiction of the George Washington cherry tree legend.

Woods paintings are among the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Joslyn Art Museum of Omaha, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

World War I
Works Progress Administration

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The Robinson Library >> Painting >> United States

This page was last updated on 06/26/2018.