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Grant Wood

Grant Wood was born just outside the small town of Anamosa, Iowa. After his father died, he and his family moved to Cedar Rapids, where he began to develop as an amateur artist. He studied in Europe on several occasions in the 1920s, where he learned the styles of impressionism and post-impressionism. Returning to Iowa, he decided to focus his painting on small town life and Midwestern landscapes, and he developed and championed a style known as Regionalism. In the summers of 1932 and 1933, he founded the Stone City Colony and Art School, where he taught his style to other Midwestern artists. Wood’s paintings of working-class rural Americans in their everyday environments allowed people to take pride in their lives during the Great Depression. His best known work is American Gothic (1930), perhaps the most widely reproduced work of 20th-century American art. A long-time teacher at the University of Iowa, he was criticized by some younger faculty who espoused more modernist styles of painting. Wood’s homosexuality, which he never spoke about publicly, also engendered hostility. He died in 1942 from pancreatic cancer.