Grant Wood's secrets

Sue Taylor, 1949-

Book - 2020

Incorporating copious archival research and original close readings of American artist Grant Wood's iconic as well as lesser-known works, Grant Wood's Secrets reveals how his sometimes anguished psychology was shaped by his close relationship with his mother and how he channeled his lifelong oedipal guilt into his art. Presenting Wood's abortive autobiography "Return from Bohemia" for the first time ever, Sue Taylor integrates the artist's own recollections into int...erpretations of his art. As Wood dressed in overalls and boasted about his beloved Midwest, he consciously engaged in regionalist strategies, performing a farmer masquerade of sorts. In doing so, he also posed as conventionally masculine, hiding his homosexuality from his rural community. Thus, he came to experience himself as a double man. This book conveys the very real threats under which Wood lived and pays tribute to his resourceful responses, which were often duplicitous and have baffled art historians who typically take them at face value.

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
Newark, Delaware : University of Delware Press 2020.
Language
English
Physical Description
xxi, 328 pages : illustrations (some color), portraits (some color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 311-315) and index.
ISBN
9781644531655
1644531658
Main Author
Sue Taylor, 1949- (author)
  • List of illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: A family affair
  • Chapter 2: Fear and desire
  • Chapter 3: Queer habits of dissembling
  • Chapter 4: The ground itself
  • Appendix: "Return from Bohemia"
  • Chronology
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Index.
Review by Choice Reviews

Taylor's innovative and important book is really two volumes in one. In the first half Taylor (emer., Portland State Univ.) offers her analysis of Grant Wood's paintings and biography, doing a particularly good job of exploring the artist's emotional life using Freudian theory. Her writing is clear and a joy to read. Taylor devotes chapters to Wood's family life, his experience of fear and desire, his sexuality, and his landscapes. She provides numerous close readings of his paintings, teasing out possible hidden symbolic meanings. The analysis is supported by illustrations in color, including rarely seen work in private collections, such as a female nude painted inside a liquor cabinet titled The Evil of Drink (1937) and a defaced painting titled Sultry Night (1938). Taylor undertook extensive archival research and synthesized recent scholarship. The second half of the book is Wood's previously unpublished autobiography Return from Bohemia, which Wood wrote in 1935 in collaboration with his secretary Park Rinard. Given that primary documentation of Wood's life has been scant, this volume will prove a valuable resource. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers.--T. Nygard, Ripon CollegeTravis NygardRipon College Travis Nygard Choice Reviews 58:01 September 2020 Copyright 2020 American Library Association.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Incorporating copious archival research and original close readings of American artist Grant Wood's iconic as well as lesser-known works, Grant Wood's Secrets reveals how his sometimes anguished psychology was shaped by his close relationship with his mother and how he channeled his lifelong oedipal guilt into his art. Presenting Wood's abortive autobiography 'return from Bohemia' for the first time ever, Sue Taylor integrates the artist's own recollections into interpretations of his art.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Incorporating copious archival research and original close readings of American artist Grant Wood's iconic as well as lesser-known works, Grant Wood's Secrets reveals how his sometimes anguished psychology was shaped by his close relationship with his mother and how he channeled his lifelong oedipal guilt into his art. Presenting Wood's abortive autobiography 'return from Bohemia' for the first time ever, Sue Taylor integrates the artist's own recollections into interpretations of his art. As Wood dressed in overalls and boasted about his beloved Midwest, he consciously engaged in regionalist strategies, performing a farmer masquerade of sorts. In doing so, he also posed as conventionally masculine, hiding his homosexuality from his rural community. Thus, he came to experience himself as a double man. This book conveys the very real threats under which Wood lived and pays tribute to his resourceful responses, which were often duplicitous and have baffled art historians who typically take them at face value. Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Incorporating copious archival research and original close readings of American artist Grant Wood’s iconic as well as lesser-known works, Grant Wood’s Secrets reveals how his sometimes anguished psychology was shaped by his close relationship with his mother and how he channeled his lifelong oedipal guilt into his art. Presenting Wood’s abortive autobiography "Return from Bohemia" for the first time ever, Sue Taylor integrates the artist’s own recollections into interpretations of his art. As Wood dressed in overalls and boasted about his beloved Midwest, he consciously engaged in regionalist strategies, performing a farmer masquerade of sorts. In doing so, he also posed as conventionally masculine, hiding his homosexuality from his rural community. Thus, he came to experience himself as a double man. This book conveys the very real threats under which Wood lived and pays tribute to his resourceful responses, which were often duplicitous and have baffled art historians who typically take them at face value.