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Posts Tagged ‘American Gothic’

grant wood young cornI have written about Grant Wood here before.  Most  know him from American Gothic, the well-known painting of the somber farmer and wife and pitchfork in front of a neat farm home.  But for me,  I am totally enthralled by his landscapes, drawing heavy influence from the way his curvy hillocks and fields come to life within his compositions.  Whenever I am feeling less than inspired all I need to do is glimpse a Grant Wood landscape and I am filled with vigor, envisioning new work of my own that draws upon the same life force and rhythm that I am seeing in his work.

I think that Wood and I share  the same belief that the landscape is alive and is best represented by human curves and, looking at his work, it is easy to connect with the humanity beneath it.  I’ve included some of my favorite Grant Wood landscapes here including The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere with its nocturnal blue tint in its upper reaches.  It’s a bright and shining painting but you never doubt that it is a night scene.  That’s one of the other lessons that I drew from Wood– that you can represent things that are counter-intuitive if you paint them with that sense of rightness in your mind that allows it to see that thing in its essence, in its true nature.

It’s almost like seeing things through the eyes of a child.  Not quite but in that spirit.  For such a seemingly simple concept, it’s a difficult thing to get across.  Anyway, enjoy these pieces from the great Mr. Wood.  I know that they have filled me with inspiration already this morning.

Grant Wood Midnight Ride of Paul Revere Grant Wood Haying Grant Wood Stone City Iowa 1930 Grant Wood New Road Grant Wood fall plowing

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Near Sundown Grant WoodIn an earlier post I spoke briefly of my admiration of Grant Wood, primarily for the rhythm of his landscapes.  The piece shown to the right, Near Sundown, was a huge influence on my earliest landscapes for this rhythm.  The way the hills rolled and the treeline rode them fit perfectly with the way I saw things.Spring Plowing 1929

I failed to mention how much I loved his use of color, the way his shapes had a darkness that gave their color a richness that really appealed to my eye.  This color coupled with the way his landscapes moved in such a organic, human manner made me see that one could interpret the landscape in new ways.  He took what might be considered a mundane Iowa landscape and made it seem alive and moving.  It gave me hope and something to aspire for in my own landscapes.

American GothicMost people, of course, know Wood primarily for American Gothic, shown here.  It is perhaps the most recognizable American painting of the 20th century, widely referenced, and often parodied, in popular culture.  I really admire the way the piece is put together, the way the figures come together with the house to form a classic triangular composition.  I also like the color blocking with the darkness of the clothing making a base that holds up the lighter colors.

A lot of people see this as being a humorous piece, somewhat ironic.  I don’t know but given Wood’s use of humor in other pieces, this may be true.  A good example of his humor is Parson Weems’ Fable, below, which illustrates the famous tale of a youthful George Washington chopping down the cherry tree.  The Mini-Me Washington always makes me laugh.

For all of this, thanks, Mr. Wood…Parson Weems' Fable

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