Unique Grant Wood exhibition comes to Cedar Rapids Art Museum to celebrate Iowa’s 175th anniversary of statehood

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Launching the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s year-long celebration of the 175th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood will be an extensive look at Iowa’s most famous artist, Grant Wood.

Grant Wood is a constant presence in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA). In addition to a gallery permanently devoted to his work, individual artworks frequently appear in temporary thematic exhibitions and the Grant Wood Studio allows visitors to immerse themselves in the space where Wood created his most famous paintings. However, even amongst all this Wood-iness, “Grant Wood Revealed” is something special.

“‘Grant Wood Revealed,’ open now through May 16, is a major celebration of both Iowa’s best-known artist and the Cedar Rapids community that collected and preserved his work. The vast majority of the CRMA’s Wood collection, the largest in any public or private institution, was donated by local community members after the artist’s death in 1942,” said associate curator Kate Kunau. “This exhibition draws attention to areas of Wood’s oeuvre that are often overlooked: his metalwork and interior decoration pieces, commissioned works for local Cedar Rapids businesses, his early Impressionist paintings, and substantial number of portraits, among others. Grant Wood Revealed marks the largest exhibition of Wood’s work in over fifteen years — a can’t miss moment for any fan of Iowa’s most famous artist.”

For this exhibition, the CRMA dug deep into its collection of nearly 300 artworks by Wood and brought together over one third of them.  Wood is best known for his paintings created between 1930 and his death in 1942, but these represent only a fraction of his artistic output, which began well before 1910.

“‘Grant Wood Revealed’ is a remarkable opportunity to see a different side of an artist everyone thinks they know. While American Gothic is the most famous American painting, Wood created it at the age of 39.

“Grant Wood Revealed” shares how Grant Wood evolved as an artist, from his childhood drawings — already quite sophisticated — to drawings for his high school yearbook, from early explorations in Impressionism to his impactful series of portraits of the later 1920s, from his initial forays into metalwork to a commission for the J. G. Cherry company.

“This exhibition exposes Wood’s ever-inquisitive mind and the works included — some from the Museum’s own extensive collection as well as several key loans from private collectors — share the steps in this artist’s fruitful but all-too-short career,” said Executive Director Sean Ulmer.

“Grant Wood Revealed” is a celebration of Wood’s artistic versatility and whimsy. There are many themes that resonate throughout Wood’s art and having such a large amount of his work on view at once allows visitors to make connections between seemingly disparate artworks and interpret the full scope of Wood’s career for themselves.

This exhibition and accompanying educational programming have been made possible by The Henry Luce Foundation, the McIntyre Foundation, the Esther and Robert Armstrong Charitable Trust, Collins Aerospace, and the GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporate Donor-Advised Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. Additional annual support has been provided by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, Funds for the Community 2020 of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, members of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and contributors to the Museum’s Annual Fund.

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