United States • 1891−1942
The name of Grant wood's most often mentioned in conjunction with two other American regionalists - Thomas HART Benton and John Stuart Curry. However, wood has always stood on the sidelines, not only from other artists, but even from their own work. "American Gothic" one of the most recognizable, the most frequently copied and parodied paintings, brought him worldwide fame, but the wood had not the slightest idea what this fame to do. And, despite the fact that the artist is considered a national treasure of America, few are able to call immediately the name of the author of "American Gothic". It is also noteworthy that to date has released only two biographical books about wood. One was written by Darrell Garuda in 1944, and the second by art critic and historian R. Tripp Evans - only in 2010)

Such paradoxical "unpopularity" there are several reasons. Life wood aspired to be called, wrote, and knew as little as possible. For years he created the image of "artist-farmer, painter in overalls, uneducated, and completely unremarkable. In one interview, wood said: "I'm the easiest guy, what you can find. There is not a single thing, done, or experienced by me that could be considered even a little fun". After the artist's death, the baton was taken by his sister Nan, which is nearly half a century has preserved and maintained this way.

Family values

Nan not only was the sister of wood, but also one of its permanent muses, a close friend and executor of the estate after his death. The woman was proud that over the years she ruthlessly "wrapped" seven biographical books about wood. And the book of Durrell branded by shame and publicly announced by the author a liar, what light did not see. Nan diligently followed the usual brother scenario, arguing that the artist was not fond of big cities, the nature was like a child, in fact, had no professional education and thought first and foremost about family, not about a romantic relationship. And, in addition, from year to year Nan in almost every interview he repeated: "My brother was not a sissy" (the woman used the word "sissy", which means "weakling", and "sissy").

Evans, after a large-scale long-term study refuted in his book on wood all these allegations. First, the artist can hardly write in farmers only on the grounds that he lived on a farm the first ten years of life. The young artist was a big fan of essays, correspondent for The Baltimore Sun," Henry Luis Mencken, in which the author ironically described the lives of the inhabitants of small towns. The artist has supported the calls of Mencken that need to move from villages to cities.
Education wood received the most that neither is a professional, extensive and very versatile. While attending high school he also drawing was engaged in the manufacture of jewelry, patterned fixtures and furniture. Immediately after graduation he went to Minneapolis, where for two years he studied at the School of design and crafts. In the end, passion for painting has taken over, and in 1913 wood entered the School of the art Institute of Chicago. However, the most intense and important to the artist became 1920-1929 years, during which he made six trips to Europe and had a year to study at the Paris art Academy of Juliane. Until 1927 wood under the influence of travel and new knowledge writes mostly in the genre of impressionism. However, during a trip to Germany in search of an assistant for the manufacture of stained glass Windows by the artist imbued with the music of German and Flemish masters of the XVI century (in particular, Jan van Eyck) and began to write in a different manner is strictly detailed and realistic ("John B. Turner, pioneer", 1929, "Woman with flowers", 1929, "Supporter", 1936, "Self-portrait", 1932).

As for the "sissy", Nan, apparently, fought a courageous way brother, trying to dispel doubts about his sexual orientation, which is still customary to speak in hints. However, according to biographers, the private life of the wood was cedar rapids sort of an open secret. Reigned here the principle of "don't ask - don't tell" allow sexual minorities to live in peace with the rest of society, but on the condition that they remained completely invisible. Therefore, wood tenderly guarded his secret, and none of his close friends and relatives even after his death has not mentioned about his homosexuality.

Shadow of the father

Harsh and gloomy, but, undoubtedly, the strong personality of Francis Marvila wood left an imprint on the life of the artist. The father was a staunch Quaker, who adhered strictly beliefs and holding his wife and children in an iron fist. According to his interpretation of the Quaker doctrines in the house was not "inventions", that is the art in principle. Grant wood recalled how once, on the orders of his father he had to walk five miles to a neighboring farm to return classmate borrowed a book of fairy tales by the brothers Grimm.

Naturally, Marvel wood was the main obstacle, as a brick wall that stood between Grant and art. As later recalled the artist, the first attempts to draw he was taken mostly in a dark basement. In his autobiography unfinished wood wrote: "Father, for me, was more of a God than the father".

Everything changed literally at one point. In one of the usual days of 1901, when the Grant was 10 years old, Mervil wood came into the living room, looked out the window to check the weather, and dropped dead (death certificate, to the word, and wrote: "dropped dead"). Immediately after the funeral, Hattie wood sold the farm and took the children in cedar rapids. The death of his father freed the Grant, he was finally able to do what he had dreamed. But, it seems that the artist until the end of his life felt some guilt to his father for what he had done against his will. So after European travels he always returned home and decided that it would be to write only Iowa and nothing more. And if you look at his paintings, it becomes clear that he wrote not scenes from the life of 20-30-ies, and the time when his father was still alive ("Tree-planting day", 1932, "The farm", 1932, "Spring in the city", 1941).


This year in the life of the wood occurred several events that turned her into utter chaos. First, Nan got married and moved with her husband to new Mexico, destroying perennial triple Alliance mother, brother and sisters. Hattie wood was seriously ill, and it was obvious that the woman will not survive. And then the wood was shocked the public, cedar rapids, suddenly marrying Sarah Sherman Maxson, a woman who had known nothing of his friends, who was his senior by nearly ten years, and which was suspiciously similar to his mother. And even Hattie drew attention to it.

Before that masculinity wood is not something that has been questioned, its as if you never existed. The marriage of the artist seemed to be the last desperate attempt to cling to the past. But wood again waited for the change, Sarah insisted on moving to Iowa city, and he obeyed, but he took his mother with him. Two weeks after moving Hattie died, leaving wood's one-on-one with a large, new house and a great new life.

In addition, in the same year Doubleday invited the artist to write an autobiography and gave him a personal assistant, who settled in them with Sarah house (and, according to Evans, which was a "love of life" of wood). Book the artist was unable to finish. He "stuck" at the moment when he described his father's funeral.

In 1935 the wood paints "Death on the ridge road". If many of his paintings say they soaked in the silence, there is the silence becomes deathly. The canvas depicts the scene of a second before the inevitable terrible disaster. Apparently, such a catastrophe seemed Voodoo series of events that irreversibly changed his life. The marriage of the artist will last only three years. He will die from pancreatic cancer in the hospital, did not live one day to 51st birthday.
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