Grant Wood: A Life

R. Tripp Evans, Knopf, $35 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307-26629-3
The fame of the iconic, often parodied American Gothic has long masked its creator. Much about Grant Wood's patriotism and masculinity has been read into the painting's pitchfork-holding farmer and his dour companion standing in front of a Midwestern farmhouse. Evans, an art historian at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, argues that even more has been misread, overshadowing a rich and varied artistic career. Associated with the Regionalist movement in painting, Wood (1891–1942) cultivated a hearty Midwestern image that hid his homosexuality. What Wood hid from polite society, he could not help revealing in his paintings: "the object of his desire is only partially abstracted in [his landscapes]—for in the undeniably erotic curves of Stone City, we register the muscular outlines of the powerful male body." His mother and his sister, Nan, further protected him. The complicated relationship included living together until Nan married—perhaps a reaction to Wood's hard and detached father, who died when Wood was 10. Evans's in-depth, gendered readings of Wood's paintings situate him in the longer history of male artists' gendered self-portrayals (bracketed by Oscar Wilde and Jackson Pollock), providing a useful new insight into Wood's place in American art. 16 pages of color photos; b&w illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 329 pages - 978-0-307-59433-4
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