Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables

Solo en Inglès

The Return from Bohemia, 1935

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Narrator: Wood intended this painting to be the cover of his memoir, The Return from Bohemia. He only completed one chapter of the book, and never published it. 

R. Tripp Evans: The viewer is confronted with a scene that includes the artist himself staring stonily out towards the viewer from behind an easel, and then behind him are a number of onlookers who are pressed in behind him, watching in wonder or meditation of what he is producing, and behind that is a giant barn.

Narrator: R. Tripp Evans wrote the biography Grant Wood: A Life. 

R. Tripp Evans: So what was intended, I would imagine to be a sort of self portrait as a analogue to the autobiography that he's writing. It ended up being a very strange and ambivalent scene about how he thought of himself as an artist. Return from Bohemia was quite literally about a rejection of European modernism. A rejection of the belief that to be a legitimate painter he had to be a Parisian, American expat. So for him, that idea of a return from Bohemia was about a sort of homecoming, a recognition of the importance of home and region. But I argue, too, that it was a closing down of that part of his life.

Painting of a group of people observing an artist painting on canvas.

Narrator: Wood intended this painting to be the cover of his memoir, The Return from Bohemia. He only completed one chapter of the book, and never published it. 

R. Tripp Evans: The viewer is confronted with a scene that includes the artist himself staring stonily out towards the viewer from behind an easel, and then behind him are a number of onlookers who are pressed in behind him, watching in wonder or meditation of what he is producing, and behind that is a giant barn.

Narrator: R. Tripp Evans wrote the biography Grant Wood: A Life. 

R. Tripp Evans: So what was intended, I would imagine to be a sort of self portrait as a analogue to the autobiography that he's writing. It ended up being a very strange and ambivalent scene about how he thought of himself as an artist. Return from Bohemia was quite literally about a rejection of European modernism. A rejection of the belief that to be a legitimate painter he had to be a Parisian, American expat. So for him, that idea of a return from Bohemia was about a sort of homecoming, a recognition of the importance of home and region. But I argue, too, that it was a closing down of that part of his life.


Grant Wood, The Return from Bohemia, 1935. Pastel, gouache, and pencil on paper, 23 1⁄2 x 20 in. (59.7 x 50.8 cm). Promised gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph courtesy Alexandre Gallery, New York