I’ve expressed my admiration here for the work of Grant Wood more than once. I find his imagery compelling, especially the way he creates mood and tension in what seem to be typical, mundane scenes. His paintings and lithographs often have a wonderful rhythm throughout them that sings to me.
I see these qualities captured beautifully in a series of stone lithographs he created that capture the feeling of the winter months in quiet and moody tones. The subtle shifts in the grays of the ink recreate the seasonal sense of atmosphere, a point illustrated wonderfully in this piece shown above, January.
This print on the left, February, was completed in 1941 and has an ominous yet beautiful quality about it. I love the rhythm in its simple composition, from the patterned fields of the farm in the background to the placement of the dark figures of the horses to the three strands of barbed wire that cross the picture plane. The way the dark horse in the foreground plays off the graded darkness in the right of the sky. Just beautiful.
Maybe the foreboding nature of this print was an omen of Wood’s own death from pancreatic cancer the very next February. He was born in February and died in February, one day short of his 51st birthday. I am staggered by the work Grant Wood created in his relatively short life and wonder what might have been had he lived to a ripe old age. I guess that doesn’t matter when he left such a rich legacy behind as it was.
Below, March is tour de force for the kind of rhythmic elements I’ve been describing. The sway of the farm structures and the bare tree at the top of the frame. The wagon and draught horse riding in on the point of the winding path. The roll of the hills and the staccato rhythm of the fenceposts running upward. Great stuff. Instant inspiration…