Oil on composition board
The John R. Van Derlip Fund; owned jointly with the Des Moines Art Center
- Review the story of Herbert Hoover.
What part of the story do you see in Grant Wood's painting?
Herbert Hoover's birthplace.
Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa, in 1874.
What clues tell you that this painting shows Hoover's birthplace after he had become famous?
The sign and tour guide suggest that Hoover had become famous by the time Grant Wood painted this.
Where are the visitors at this tourist attraction?
Who is the tour guide pointing the way for?
You - the viewer of the painting!
Detail showing sign and tour guide from The Birthplace Of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa
- Grant Wood's STYLE
can be compared to American folk art because of the way he simplified forms in his paintings.
What forms did he simplify in this painting?
Trees and shrubs are solid round shapes rather than irregular as they are in nature, and the houses are boxlike.
- Grant Wood created
in his painting by repeating lines and forms.
Where do you see repeated lines?
The leaves of the trees and shrubs are made up of regular repeated lines. The lawn is painted with tiny repeated lines.
Where do you see repeated forms that create pattern?
Tops of trees, tree trunks and shadows that line the road on the right, rounded forms of shrubs to the left of the bridge, haystacks in the
on the left.
- What time of year is it in Grant Wood's painting?
How can you tell?
Lush greens, some leaves beginning to turn fall colors.
What time of day is it?
How can you tell?
Shadows indicate sun is at an angle. Bright light indicates sun is growing stronger rather than fading into evening
- Artists use several
techniques to give their work the illusion of depth.
Which techniques did Grant Wood use?
Objects closest to the viewer appear larger. Objects far away appear smaller and closer to the horizon line
[SCALE]; objects closest
to the viewer overlap and partially hide objects in the distance
[OVERLAP]; objects recede along imaginary lines that meet at a
"vanishing point" on the horizon line [linear
Which technique didn't he use?
Distant objects have less detail and muted gray-toned colors compared to objects close to the viewer
- Grant Wood was a
painter. He was interested in painting scenes from everyday life in the midwestern United States.
What is "everyday" about the scene in this painting?
Chickens in the yard, children playing, laundry hanging on the clothesline.
What is not "everyday?"
Tour guide and signage signify an extraordinary place; yard and road excessively neat and ordered.
- What popular American myth does Herbert Hoover's story exemplify?
Anyone can grow up to become president of the United States.
Do you think this myth holds true today? Why or why not?
- Grant Wood's painting of Herbert Hoover's humble beginnings shows how extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people.
Can you think of other ordinary people in American history who were able to make extraordinary achievements?
Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver, Howard Hughes... the list
- Grant Wood was a member of a group of American painters called
REGIONALISTS. These artists tried to show the distinctive
characteristics of a region of the United States in their paintings.
What particular characteristics of the American Midwest did Grant Wood include in his painting of Herbert Hoover's birthplace?
Flat rural landscape, wooden farm buildings, deciduous trees and changing seasons.
How would his painting look different if Herbert Hoover had been born in the southwest United States? In Colorado? In Florida?
Ask students if anyone has traveled to these areas and, if so, describe the landscape.
- Grant Wood and his contemporaries in American art in the 1930s and 1940s were interested in raising ordinary experiences of everyday
life to mythic proportions.
How did Grant Wood raise everyday life in the town of Herbert Hoover's birthplace to mythic proportions?
He made a painting about it!
Before this particular period of American history, artists and writers did not consider daily life
important enough to write about or represent in works of art.
Can you think of other artists or writers you may have studied whose work focused on daily life?
Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, John Steinbeck, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart