Gothic Painting Essay

Two articles of note appeared in 1935, neither terribly positive.Grant Wood's popular and critical rise was phenomenal; his fall, mercifully after his death, was meteoric.His early supporters cast him as the savior of American art, the man who would finally close the door against the strange cubist abstractions that were flooding from Paris into New York.Wood burst onto the American art scene in the thirties with his submission of American Gothic to the jury for the annual exhibition of American paintings and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.The painting was admitted and awarded the Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal, as well as a three hundred dollar prize, and it was quickly purchased by the Friends of American Art at the Institute for another three hundred dollars.Several pages into the essay, Pickering benignly condenses what academics and Eastern intellectuals came to dislike about Grant Wood by 1950: "His color is clear, his outlines unblurred, and his surfaces polished. His work is nearly always popular among simple people" (273).Pickering's main problem with Wood, it turns out, was that he didn't fit the image of the fiery, romantic painter--he is no mad Van Gogh or emotional Cezanne.Wood died in 1942 and a retrospective show was quickly arranged in Chicago.With the isolationism and inward-looking of the Depression years behind the United States and the new internationalism of World War II looming, Wood's nationalist vision and vocal denunciation of European artistic traditions made him an easy target for critics looking to score political points.Today, the United States is perhaps more internationally minded that ever before.Grant Wood and all those associated with him in the long crusade for a genuine native expansion in the arts are in eclipse. Art is inexorably wedded to the social and political events of its time, and tody is not the time for Grant Wood and his rugged nationalism." (3) Critics were merciless.


Comments Gothic Painting Essay

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