Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables

Solo en Inglès

Boy Milking Cow, 1932

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Narrator: Wood painted Boy Milking Cow and the two nearby canvases for the same hotel that commissioned the corn cob chandelier we saw at the beginning of this tour. He called the series the Fruits of Iowa

Wood once said that he got his best ideas while milking a cow. But while he adopted the persona of “farmer painter” in public—even adopting overalls as a kind of uniform—he was more conflicted in private. Sara Sherman Maxon, whom Wood married in 1935 and divorced four years later, described this tension.

R. Tripp Evans: His suggestion that he's a farmer painter, his constant expressions of love for the Iowa soil and for his region. Sara is very illuminating about this as well in her memoirs.

Narrator: R. Tripp Evans.

R. Tripp Evans: She actually says that Wood's relationship with his region and with his family was a really complicated one. That, in a sense, he was more of a city boy than a farm boy to her. He confided to her that he absolutely detested milking cows, for example. 

So there are moments like that that you think, boy, how much of what we are hearing, even from Wood's own mouth, was an intentional form of camouflage?

Painting of a boy milking a cow.

Narrator: Wood painted Boy Milking Cow and the two nearby canvases for the same hotel that commissioned the corn cob chandelier we saw at the beginning of this tour. He called the series the Fruits of Iowa

Wood once said that he got his best ideas while milking a cow. But while he adopted the persona of “farmer painter” in public—even adopting overalls as a kind of uniform—he was more conflicted in private. Sara Sherman Maxon, whom Wood married in 1935 and divorced four years later, described this tension.

R. Tripp Evans: His suggestion that he's a farmer painter, his constant expressions of love for the Iowa soil and for his region. Sara is very illuminating about this as well in her memoirs.

Narrator: R. Tripp Evans.

R. Tripp Evans: She actually says that Wood's relationship with his region and with his family was a really complicated one. That, in a sense, he was more of a city boy than a farm boy to her. He confided to her that he absolutely detested milking cows, for example. 

So there are moments like that that you think, boy, how much of what we are hearing, even from Wood's own mouth, was an intentional form of camouflage?


Grant Wood, Boy Milking Cow, 1932. Oil on canvas, cut out and mounted on fiberboard, 71 1⁄4 x 63 1⁄4 in. (181 x 160.7 cm) framed. Coe College, Permanent Art Collection, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; gift of the Eugene C. Eppley Foundation. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph by Mark Tade, 2005