Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables
Mar 2–Jun 10, 2018

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Feb 28–Mar 1

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A dour man and woman stand in front of a farmhouse

Grant Wood (1891–1942), American Gothic, 1930. Oil on composition board, 30 3⁄4 x 25 3⁄4 in. (78 x 65.3 cm). Art Institute of Chicago; Friends of American Art Collection 1930.934. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph courtesy Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY

Grant Wood's American Gothic—the double portrait of a pitchfork-wielding farmer and a woman commonly presumed to be his wife—is perhaps the most recognizable painting in 20th century American art, an indelible icon of Americana, and certainly Wood's most famous art work. But Wood's career consists of far more than one single painting. Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables brings together the full range of his art, from his early Arts and Crafts decorative objects and Impressionist oils through his mature paintings, murals, and book illustrations. What the exhibition reveals is a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. Wood sought pictorially to fashion a world of harmony and prosperity that would answer America's need for reassurance at a time of economic and social upheaval occasioned by the Depression. Yet underneath its bucolic exterior, his art reflects the anxiety of being an artist and a closeted gay man in the Midwest in the 1930s. By depicting his subconscious anxieties through populist images of rural America, Wood crafted images that speak both to American identity and to the estrangement and isolation of modern life.

This exhibition is organized by Barbara Haskell, Curator, with Sarah Humphreville, Senior Curatorial Assistant.

Major support for Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Significant support is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Generous support is provided by John and Mary Pappajohn and the Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.

Major endowment support is provided by the Barbara Haskell American Fellows Legacy Fund.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.