The story of Grant Wood and his iconic painting.
A breezy tour of the white Midwestern artist’s life first shows him drawing with charred sticks on brown wrapping paper (since his family didn’t have much money). Later, he drew in crayon, made scenery for school plays and publications, and won art awards. As a young adult, he traveled to Europe, and three double-page spreads show him creating impressionist, cubist, and abstract paintings just like those of Monet, Picasso, and Mondrian, though it’s unclear from text and illustrations if he did imitations or simply experimented with different styles. (The page on abstract artists shows a Mondrian knockoff on Wood’s easel.) But traveling in Germany, he realized he most appreciated the realistic portraits of the Gothic period—Hans Memling’s and Jan van Eyck’s, in particular. Wood went home to Iowa and got to work creating art based on the real people and places of his region. Using his sister and his dentist as models, he created his most famous work, American Gothic, shown at the Chicago Art Institute in 1930. Young readers are treated to a crash course in modern art while witnessing Wood’s evolution as an artist. A sunny palette of yellows, greens, and browns is perfect for Wood’s regionalist art and the inspirational tone of the volume.
A fine, accessible introduction to Wood’s art. (author’s note, sources, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)