Earlier this year, two small travel paintings by Grant Wood went up for sale at an auction in Florida. Although they are not the regional subject matter people have come to expect from Wood’s work, these lovely paintings showcase his style while traveling abroad during the 1920’s. Greg, a longtime client of The Center and a collector of American Regionalism art for many years, couldn’t pass on the opportunity to buy these two Wood paintings. “I bought them sight unseen and had them shipped directly to The Conservation Center, as I knew you would do a wonderful job making sure all was well and in order with them.”
Grant Wood (1891-1942) was well known as the spokesperson for American Regionalism, a movement that would go on to influence other American artists such as Norman Rockwell. Though the idea was not his brainchild, he embodied its methods, rejecting the abstract art of Europe during that time. This style of painting was meant to depict the local areas the artist lived in or around, acting as a statement to the region. As most artists could not afford the luxury of traveling abroad to Europe in the 1920’s, they painted what was familiar and available to them. However, Wood was able to travel through Europe several times between 1920-1926, where he observed Impressionist and Post-Impressionistic styles. Upon his return to the Midwest, it was actually the Flemish Renaissance style of art that seemed to have greatly influenced his painting style. Where many of us recognize Wood’s gothic style from paintings such as American Gothic, it is his landscape paintings from Sorrento, Italy that leads our topic for conservation this month.