Artist - Grant Wood

Art Collection

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autumn_oaks   bench indian_Creek
Autumn Oaks Bench Indian Creek
kanesville Notre_Dame Pine_Tree
Kanesville Notre Dame Pine Tree
Young Corn    

Grant Wood

1891 – 1942

Grant Wood was born in Anamosa, Iowa, in 1891.  When he was ten years old his father died, and Hattie Weaver Wood moved with her four children to Cedar Rapids.  While attending school, Wood worked at odd jobs to help support his family and occasionally entered art competitions.  In 1905, his drawing of oak leaves took third place in a national contest sponsored by Crayola. 

Wood entered Washington High School in 1906 and met Marvin Cone, a classmate also interested in art.  The two became lifelong friends and, while in high school, worked together to design theatre sets and on a variety of projects for the Cedar Rapids Art Association (later the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art).  Wood also drew for the school’s yearbook and literary magazine.  Grant Wood and Marvin Cone graduated from Washington High School in 1910. 

Wood’s formal training in art was limited but included two summers in Minneapolis studying at the school of Design, Handicraft, and Normal Art; a life-drawing class taught by Charles A. Cumming at the University of Iowa; and occasional classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.  In 1916, Wood left the Chicago classes and a metal craft student to return to Cedar Rapids.  His mother had lost her home because of financial troubles, and Grant Wood came home to build a house for his mother, sister Nan, and himself. 

From 1917-1918 Wood served in the U.S. Army, and in 1919 he began a seven-year period as an art teacher for the Cedar Rapids Community Schools at Jackson and McKinley Junior Highs.  Throughout the 1920’s, Wood made four trips to Europe where he studied, painted, and exhibited.  He also was “commissioned” to complete several projects including the stained glass window at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids and murals for the Eppley Hotels in Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Waterloo, and Council Bluffs.  “Kanesville” was one of those commissioned projects. 

Wood was doing some interior decorating for David Turner of Turner Mortuary in 1924 when Turner offered a carriage house behind the mortuary as a studio for Wood.  The now legendary 5 Turner Alley became home to Wood and his mother for 11 years as well as Wood’s studio during the most productive period of his career. 

In 1930, Wood sent “American Gothic” to a juried art show at the Chicago Art Institute.  It won second place and was purchased by the Institute for $300.  Immediately, Wood became nationally famous, and “American Gothic” would ultimately become the best-known of all American paintings.  This success established Wood as a dominant leader in the Regionalism art movement. 

In 1932 and 1933, Wood and his friend Marvin Cone established Stone City Art Colony, and in 1933 he was appointed head of the Midwest division of the Public Works Art Project.  From 1934 to his death from cancer in 1942, Wood was a professor of art at the University of Iowa.