Gothic Painting Essay
Today, the United States is perhaps more internationally minded that ever before.
Grant Wood and all those associated with him in the long crusade for a genuine native expansion in the arts are in eclipse. Art is inexorably wedded to the social and political events of its time, and tody is not the time for Grant Wood and his rugged nationalism." (3) Critics were merciless.
It was certainly true that Wood's popularity rapidly fell off with the changed economy following World War II.
Ruth Pickering wrote a far less bloodthirsty essay on Wood in the September 1935 issue of North American Review.
Craven decided that Wood's "highest attainments lie in the field of portraiture and figure painting..dealing unreservedly with local psychologies, he has created characters which, though rooted in the Iowa soil, belong in the gallery of American types" (21).
There is little terror in the painting because there is little life" (277).
He is, she allows, "truly charming," an epithet that would seem to be the kiss of critical death to a serious painter.
James Sweeney of The New Repubic lambasted Wood for his lack of sensibility to color, "slack compositional sense," "flabby, characterless figures," and "feeble sense of modeling." Sweeney was also the first, but certainly not the last, to characterize Wood's paintings as reminiscent of a "gift-shop atmosphere" (76).
Perhaps the tenacious reviewer's most prophetic statement in the attack is his last: "That Grant Wood should be accepted and celebrated as a representative American painter is of more interest as an economic symptom than as an art event" (77).