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Metroploitan Art

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Bryan Rauda

April 15, 2007


Exhibition Review

I recently took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There they had many great painting in the permanent art collection. One that caught my eye, which I had seen many times before, but never knew any thing about, was a painting called The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, which was created by Grant Wood in 1931. This painting is oil on wood panel and is

30 Ð'ј X 40 inches.

Grant Wood is a famous philosopher who was born in February in the year 1891 in Anamosa, Iowa. Wood was born to Quaker parents on a small farm. This experience would be the basis of his iconic images of small-town plain folk and verdant Midwestern vistas. He later moved to Cedar Rapids after the death of his father in 1901. He first studied at the Minneapolis School of design between 1910 and 1911 and became a professional designer while attending night courses at the University of Iowa and at the Art Institute of Chicago. At the end of 1915 he gave up designing and returned to Cedar Rapids. After his military service he taught painting and drawing at the public school of Cedar Rapids and visited Paris in 1920 with Marvin Cone. His early works were outdoor scenes combining a bright palette and a loose, impressionistic style. Some other information about Grant Wood's was that Wood was trained as a craftsman and designer as well as a painter. After spending a year (1923) at the AcadÐ"©mie Julian in Paris, he returned to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where in 1927 he was commissioned to do a stained-glass window. Knowing little about stained glass, he went to Germany to seek craftsmen to assist him. While there he was deeply influenced by the sharply detailed paintings of various German and Flemish masters of the 16th century. Wood subsequently abandoned his Impressionist style and began to paint in the sharply detailed, realistic manner by which he is now known.

A portrait of his mother in this style, "Woman with Plants" (1929), did not attract attention, but in 1930 his "American Gothic" caused a sensation when it was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. The hard, cold realism of this painting and the honest, direct, earthy quality of its subject were unusual in American art. The work ostensibly portrays a farmer-preacher and his daughter in front of their farmhouse, but Wood actually used his sister, Nan, and his dentist, B.H. McKeeby, as models. As a telling portrait of the sober and hard-working rural dwellers of the Midwest, the painting has become one of the best-known icons of American art.

Wood became one of the leading figures of the Regionalist movement. Another well-known painting by him is "Daughters of Revolution" (1932), a satirical portrait of three unattractive old women who appear smugly satisfied with their American Revolutionary ancestry. In 1934 Wood was made assistant professor of fine arts at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Among his other principal works are several paintings illustrating episodes from American history and a series of Midwestern rural landscapes that communicate a strong sense of American ambience by means of a skillful simplification of form. (The Art Encyclopedia)

Wood's style became known as the School of American Regionalism. (Wikipedia) Personal depictions of rural America and minute attention to detail are characteristic of his paintings. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931) shows his careful approach to landscape. While referring to the narrative subject of this Paul Revere ride, Wood does not attempt historical accuracy. In fact, he shows little interest in the event itself, and instead, shows the landscape and the architecture of colonial Massachusetts. It is a highly personal vision of American culture, which some claim is an uncertain mixture of adoration and parody. Supposedly the source and inspiration for the horse, and the painting itself, was a child's rocking horse. At least that is what a staff member of the MET proclaimed. The bird's eye view of the town and surrounding countryside becomes eerie when rendered with Wood's formal and emotional precision. Much like his legendary American Gothic (1930), The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931) draws its power from formal imagination and moral vagueness. Paul Revere was a lookout assigned to keep watch for British troops near Boston. On April 18, 1775, they spotted the British and rode through



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