American Gothic by Grant Wood

Threshing Wheat by Thomas Benton

Regionalism artists

Thomas Benton

Grant Wood (1891 - 1942)

What is Regionalism

Regionalism is a realist modern American art movement wherein artists shunned the city and rapidly developing technological advances to focus on scenes of rural life. Regionalist style was at its height from 1930 to 1935, and is best-known through the so-called "Regionalist Triumvirate" of Grant Wood in Iowa, Thomas Hart Benton in Missouri, and John Steuart Curry in Kansas. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Regionalist art was widely appreciated for its reassuring images of the American heartland.

Regionalism bridged the gap between a completely abstract art and the academic realist art in much the same way that the Post-Impressionists had done in France a generation earlier. The Regionalists prepared the way for Abstract Expressionists to emerge in America (for example, Jackson Pollock?s drip technique originated with exercises Thomas Hart Benton used in the art classes Pollock took while a student). Regionalism had the same influence on later American art that the Post-Impressionists had in France with the European Modernists.

In Grant Wood's pamphlet "Revolt Against the City", published in Iowa City, 1935, he asserts that American artists and buyers of art were no longer looking to Parisian culture for subject matter and style. Wood wrote that Regional artists interpret physiography, industry, and psychology of their hometown, and that the competition of these preceding elements creates American culture. He wrote that the lure of the city was gone, and hopes that art of the widely diffused "whole people" would prevail. He cites Thomas Jefferson's characterization of cities as "ulcers on the body politic."

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