Art History:   Grade 3 Lesson 2

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  Red White and Blue Art - Rural Life in Art


  1. COW WEATHERVANE, c. 1875, attributed to L. W. Cushing and Sons, Waltham, MA. Cast and stamped copper, painted, length of cow -18”. Reproduction Photograph

    A hand carved wooden form would have been used to make the mold from which this piece was created. Though weather vanes of this type were made in multiples, they are collected by folk-art enthusiasts, for each one has aged differently and many have developed a beautiful patina. Shooting at weather vanes was always a popular American prank, and this placid cow bears the pitted scars of bee bees and bullets.


  2. Piece of Copper

    This piece of copper is the same material that the weathervane is made from and about as thick.


  3. The Dividing of the Ways, 1947, "Grandma” Anna Mary Robertson Moses, American (1860-1961) Oil on masonite. Reproduction print.

    At the age of 100, Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) was still painting her recollections of life in a vanished rural America. They are scenes of great charm in their reflection of a happy innocence that is generally viewed nostalgically as a native virtue of the recent national past. Her paintings, for all their ‘primitive” quality, are acutely realistic in intention. She records the details of every visual component of her happy world with an utterly charming faith in the obvious, and absolutely invulnerable innocence:


  4. Stone City, 1930, Grant Wood (1891-1942). Oil. Reproduction print.

    Stone City, 26 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, once a limestone quarry, became a ghost town consisting of a general store and a bridge because of competition with Portland cement. It was founded by J. A. Green, Irish pioneer, who brought steam drills and one thousand workers there to quarry limestone. About 1883 he built a twenty room stone  mansion, a stone opera house and a stone church. One corner of the mansion with a Gothic window added. shows at the left of the painting. Rearrangement to fit the abstract design, said to be the starting point of all Woods pictures, omitted the church but included farm buildings, horses, cows, windmills, and billboard. The bulbous trees suggest the lacquered sponges he used as trees in a model for a realtor, hut he said he got the idea for them from his mother’s Haviland china. The stylized landscapes which followed Stone City affected advertising and landscaping and came to be associated with the name Grant Wood.


  5. American Gothic 1930, Grant Wood (1891-1942). Reproduction print.

    Wood got the idea for American Gothic in August of 1930, when he visited Eldon, a tiny town in southern Iowa. He came upon the house destined to make him famous. The modest five-room structure, built in the 1880’s by local craftsmen, in a style known as Carpenter Gothic, appealed to Wood because of its compactness and emphatic design. With his fondness for repeating geometries, he immediately envisioned a long and lean couple, “American Gothic people,” he called them, to go along with the house and to echo its predominantly vertical lines. Wood turned to family photographs to give his painting an old-fashioned, Victorian cast. He transformed his sister, Nan, into a plausible stand-in for one of his relatives. For Dr. McKeeby, the Cedar Rapids dentist who agreed to pose as the man, Wood found a collarless shirt among his painting rags to go with the bibbed overalls and a dark jacket. Wood worked on American Gothic for about two months, finishing it in time to send it, along with Stone City, to the jury for the 1930 annual exhibition of American paintings and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. No one could have been more surprised than Wood when the painting was not only admitted but won a bronze medal and became an overnight public success.

    see also Grade 3 Lesson 5 for more Grant Wood


  6. Louisiana Rice Fields, 1928, Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)

    Benton was born in Missouri, and since both his temperament and family traditions were conducive to a strong affection for the customs and landscape of the Middle West, he became one of the principal proponents of regionalism. Louisiana Rice Fields presents his essentially picturesque view of rural life through its strong relationships of line and its tonal and color contrasts. His caricatured personalities and colorful versions of local customs were in accord with popular conceptions of the American way of life. The regionalism of the late twenties and thirties was not only a rediscovery of America, it was also and attempt by artists to achieve a reintegration with the traditional pattern of American life and a reaffirmation of faith in that life.
    bulletSee also Grade 1 Lesson 2


  7. Gray and Gold, 1942, John Rogers Cox, American (1915-1990) Oil on canvas 35 3/4 x 49 1/2 in. The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH Reproduction print.

    John R Cox was a bank clerk and then director of the Terre Haute, Indiana Art Gallery before beginning to paint in 1941. His feeling for color and design, as seen in his lyrical landscapes, has brought him recognition as a leading contemporary American artist. He has exhibited his work in Chicago, Cleveland and Toledo. The Metropolitan Museum of Art gave him a distinguished award for his painting Gray and Gold <I>Gray and Gold</I>, 1942<BR>John Rogers Cox (American, 1915-1990)
<BR>oil on canvas
<BR>Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1943.60
<BR>©The Cleveland Museum of Art


  8. Snap the Whip, 1872, Winslow Homer, American (1836-1910), oil, Reproduction print.

    Winslow Homer was born in Boston and lived in Cambridge. He began his career as an illustrator and was a correspondent in 1861 (Civil War) for Harper’s Weekly, then a very popular magazine. After 1876 he devoted himself to painting only, in Maine in the summer and Florida or the Bahamas in winter. After 1884 he lived alone in Maine, almost a recluse and never married. His early paintings are authentic and attractive visual records of American country life of the 1860’s and 70’s. Known for his directness, realism, objectivity and splendid color. Later the sea became his chief theme, no people, and he did powerful expressions of the majesty and beauty of the sea. He excelled as a water-colorist, in severe simplification, concentration on large masses and movements, strong linear rhythms. He was the most many-sided and colorful American artist of the later l9~ century. Snap the whip is a rough, high spirited game in which children join hands in a line and run in a circle anchored by the biggest member, who sometimes grasps a tree or a comrade for support, until their gathering speed snaps the ones on the far end away from the spiral and caps flying, they tumble to the ground.


  9. Norman Rockwell Illustrations, American (1894-1978) Portfolio of reproductions of paintings.

    Norman Rockwell is probably one of the most popular 20th century American artists because his subject matter is always about life in America. With great detail in every painting carefully done. Rockwell was born in New York City in 1894 and became a professional artist at age 16. He designed the cover of the Saturday Evening Post for the first time when he was 22 and eventually completed over 300 additional covers for that magazine. Norman Rockwell and his covers were a huge part of the success of the Saturday Evening Post. his subjects accurately portrayed the life of the average citizen as he or she grows up, falls in love, marries, raises a family, and enjoys the fruit of hard work, courage, honesty, and the American way of life. 

    The titles included in this portfolio are:

    1. The Homecoming
    2. The Char Woman
    3. The Gossips
    4. The Bottom of the Ninth
    5. The Plumbers
    6. Saying Grace
    7. Lion Keeper
    8. Stealing Home
    9. Girl in the Mirror

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