Grant Wood

This exhibition came as a timely reminder of the frequency with which the recurring attack on advanced art is led by a call for localism dressed in the safely assimilated style of an earlier avant-garde. Grant Wood tried to be a Modernist. He went to Paris and tried to pass as a late Post-Impressionist. But he was very late, and rather mediocre. And so, discouraged, he repudiated Modernism, returned to Iowa, and there developed a cartoony realism more heavily indebted than he cared to admit to the European art he now professed to despise. Having learned in Paris that a primitive style of representation can be more effective than that of the well-schooled art student, he studied hard to develop a style that would appear rugged and American. To that end he modified his Post-Impressionism with the flattened simplicities of folk painting, and, perhaps thanks to American quilts, perhaps thanks

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