Grant “American Gothic” Wood, an Impressionist?

Grant DeVolson Wood (1891–1942) — long before his “American Gothic” became iconic,  Wood’s forays into “formal” art education included occasional night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.  However like other Americans of the era, he studied at the Academie Julien (Reginald Leslie Grooms was a fellow student).  While in Paris he became captivated with Impressionism & Post Impressionism [Les Nabis] as reflected in some of his works below.
In spite of this lack of formal training, in 1934 he became an associate professor of fine arts at what is now the University of Iowa.  During his tenure this led to continual confrontations with the guild of “academic” professors.  One of Wood’s detractors was H. W. Janson, who was teaching at Iowa while finishing his Harvard dissertation.  Friction between them prompted Janson’s criticism of Wood & Regionalism in the 1940’s & 1950’s.  Subsequent editions of  Janson’s textbook History of Art (the default standard in classrooms for years) excludes any mention of Wood, Regionalism, or “American Gothic”.  Nevertheless, Wood received a number of prestigious honorary degrees.  In his lithograph, Honorary Degree (1937), Wood, somewhat “short” on formal training, is honored with a “gothic” hood by his taller & more pretentious academic colleagues. Wood is basking in the glory of the Gothic arch, his symbol for Regionalism & American Gothic, his claims to fame.  This is one of the few self-portraits he completed.

Grant Wood’s sister Nan & his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby — standing next to their iconic likenessAs an aside: Although it’s common knowledge that the models for  the oft-parodied “American Gothic” were Wood’s sister, Nan Wood Graham (1900-90), & his local dentist from Cedar Rapids, Dr. Byron H. McKeeby (1867-1950), interestingly, both sat separately & never in situ in front of the Carpenter Gothic style house (Sears, Roebuck & Co. used to sell them as kits) which still is standing in Eldon, Wapello County, Iowa

Dan Ellis-Killian

[rockyou id=123326777&w=600&h=450]

Question: Did George Stout (former director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston) study under Grant Wood or Horst Woldemar Janson at the Univ. of Iowa? No, by the time Wood was appointed to the faculty in 1934 & Janson was teaching (1938-41), Stout was head of the conservation department at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum

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