32¢ Grant Wood
Four Centuries of American Art
Issue Date: August 27, 1998
City: Santa Clara, CA
Printed By: Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
Once a high school art teacher, Grant Wood (1892-1942) is recognized as one of the most important representatives of the artistic style of regionalism, which flourished in America in the 1930s. The majority of Wood’s paintings focused on the people and rural countryside typically seen in the Midwest.
Wood studied at the Académie Julian in Paris, returning to his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1923. There his first major patron, a mortician, provided him with working and living space. In 1927, the local American Legion post commissioned Wood to do a stained-glass window for the group’s building. Because Wood knew little about stained glass, he traveled to Germany to seek an expert’s advice. The Legion was so annoyed by the fact that the window was constructed in Germany, they refused to accept it.
The wood-frame house featured in American Gothic, the artist’s best-known work, still stands in Eldon, Iowa. For the painting, Wood’s sister Nan posed as the woman, and the local dentist as her father. They are wearing period dress of the 1890s. Some experts say Wood was poking fun at the people of Iowa, others contend he was praising their virtues. American Gothic gained national attention when it won an award in Chicago in 1930.