Wednesday, December 20, 2017

‘Grant Wood’s Masonic painting in Whitney retrospective’

Of course the Whitney’s upcoming Grant Wood show will feature the artist’s Masonic masterpiece. It’s the Whitney.

The Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street) will open “Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables” on March 2 for a three-month exhibition to end June 10. (Members will have access on February 28.) Thanks to the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum, Wood’s triptych “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry” will be among the paintings on display.

Courtesy Iowa Masonic Library and Museum

From the publicity:

Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”—the double portrait of a pitchfork-wielding farmer and a woman commonly presumed to be his wife—is perhaps the most recognizable painting in 20th century American art, an indelible icon of Americana, and certainly Wood’s most famous artwork. But Wood’s career consists of far more than one single painting. “Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables” brings together the full range of his art, from his early Arts and Crafts decorative objects and Impressionist oils through his mature paintings, murals, and book illustrations. What the exhibition reveals is a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. Wood sought pictorially to fashion a world of harmony and prosperity that would answer America’s need for reassurance at a time of economic and social upheaval occasioned by the Depression. Yet underneath its bucolic exterior, his art reflects the anxiety of being an artist and a closeted gay man in the Midwest in the 1930s. By depicting his subconscious anxieties through populist images of rural America, Wood crafted images that speak both to American identity and to the estrangement and isolation of modern life. This exhibition is organized by Barbara Haskell, Curator, with Sarah Humphreville, Senior Curatorial Assistant.

Bro. Grant Wood was at labor in Mount Hermon Lodge 263 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry” is his only known Masonic-themed painting (but look for his “Shriner Quartet” litho!). The painting is exhibited in the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, whose skilled experts are packing and preparing the painting for transport to New York City pretty much as I type this.

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