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Iowa History Daily: October 30 - American Gothic's Debut

Iowa History Daily: On October 30, 1930, Grant Wood’s iconic Iowa painting “American Gothic” went on display for the first time. Starting with sketches of a small house in Eldon, the painting featuring either a husband and wife or father and daughter stands out as one of the most important cultural artifacts of Iowa’s past.

Born on a farm near Anamosa in Jones County during 1891, Grant Wood showed artistic ability from a young age. Moving to Cedar Rapids after the death of his father, the 10-year old wood continued to develop his artistic skills and even won a coloring contest he later credited with inspiring him to pursue a career in art. After high school, Wood attended the Arts & Crafts Guild in Minneapolis and sought to make his way in the world while dabbling in farming and teaching country school.

Further developing his artistic abilities at the University of Iowa and the Art Institute of Chicago, Wood began to develop his own unique style. In the 1930 classic painting “American Gothic” the house appears first in preserved sketches, with the staged figures of Wood’s sister Nan and his dentist Dr. B.H. McKeeby standing on the lawn in Eldon. Representative of Iowa culture, the painting provides limited commentary while allowing speculation on what the Regionalist painter intended.

An instant sensation after initial display in Chicago, the painting continues to inspire audiences around the world to head on down to Eldon (like the initial Notes on Iowa walk across the state) to stop at the famed house near the Des Moines River maintained by the State Historical Society of Iowa today. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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