Sunday, January 31, 2010

Favorite paintings

Grant Wood is best known by the public at large for "American Gothic", but I've always been more drawn to his Iowa landscapes, particularly "Fall Plowing", from 1931. His sly wit, which is more obvious in "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", "Parson Weems' Fable", "The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover" and "Daughters of Revolution" (the only "satirical" painting he is said to claim as such) has often been off-putting to the more "serious" art world. But it will surprise nobody who knows me that I find that to be one of his pictures' most appealing qualities.
"Fall Plowing" may appear at first to be a romanticized version of the American pastoral ideal. Anyone who has actually spent time plowing a field, even when pulled by a tractor instead of by oxen, knows this subject is very romanticized. I don't think romance is Wood's driving force here, though, instead I think he's acknowledging what hard work such an endeavor would be, and is ridiculing any attempt to make it out to be any kind of worker's paradise.
I've read that Wood's composition and pattern was inspired by quilt designs. I think that's pretty valid, and would add even more of its "Americana" sensibility even as it undermines that sensibility.

1 comment:

Dallas Arts Salon said...

This is quite stunning. I can understand the appeal.