Grant Wood – “American Gothic”


I am delighted to introduce a US based artist, Spike Ress, as a guest-writer for

Spike has kindly agreed to allow us to run a series of his posts that largely coincide with the birthdays of the artists featured. I hope you will enjoy Spike’s first post – here it is celebrating the life and work of Grant Wood.

Grant Wood (1891 – 1942)

Today is the birthday of Grant Wood. Wood was born February 13, 1891 and lived until February 12, 1942.

Grant Wood was an American painter born four miles east of Anamosa, Iowa. He is best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly the painting American Gothic, an iconic image of the 20th century – the original model’s are seen below.

Grant Woods Models

After high school Wood enrolled in an art school in Minneapolis in 1910 and in 1913 was enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1920 to 1928, he made four trips to Europe, where he studied many styles of painting, especially Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, but it was the work of the 15th-century Flemish artist Jan van Eyck that most influenced him.

Wood was an active painter from an extremely young age until his death in 1942, and although he is best known for his paintings, he worked in a large number of media including lithography, ink, charcoal, ceramics, metal, wood and found objects.

Throughout his life he hired out his talents to many Iowa-based businesses as a steady source of income. This included painting advertisements, sketching rooms of a mortuary house for promotional flyers and, in one case, designing the corn-themed decor (including chandelier) for the dining room of a hotel. He returned to Cedar Rapids to teach Junior High students after serving in the army as a camouflage painter.

Wood is associated with the American movement of Regionalism that was primarily situated in the Midwest and advanced figurative painting of rural American themes in an aggressive rejection of European abstraction. In 1932, Wood helped found the Stone City Art Colony near his hometown to help artists get through the Great Depression.


“All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow, so I went back to Iowa” – Grant Wood


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I am an English trained and experienced lawyer. I have lived with my wife and family for nearly twenty years in the “California of Europe” - at the tip of Southern Europe. I am a proud European and driven to evangelize about the quality of life to be enjoyed here.

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