Grant Wood (1891-1942) was an American Regionalist painter. Born in Iowa, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago. He served as a US Army camouflage painter during WWI and then travelled through Europe during the 1920s. Although exposed to contemporary Impressionists and Expressionists, it was the Northern Renaissance painters, such as Hans Memling, that left an enduring mark on his style. He founded the Stone City Art Colony in 1932 before settling down to teach at the University of Iowa until his death a few years later.
American Gothic (1930, oil on beaverboard, the Art Institute of Chicago). Instantly famous after its debut, American Gothic depicts a Midwestern farmer and his unmarried daughter in front of their Gothic Revival style cottage -- hence the title. The rigid formality and precise realistic depiction is in direct imitation of Northern Renaissance painting. As an icon of the Regionalist style, this work celebrates the beauty of the American Midwest in both its landscape and culture.
Young Corn (1931, oil on masonite, Cedar Rapids Iowa Community School). Here Wood idealizes Iowa as a peaceable kingdom of order, harmony, and prosperity. Compare.
Hired Girl (1935, gouache on paper, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art). In contrast to contemporary European depictions of women, Wood emphasizes the qualities of work, perseverance, and steadiness.