REGIONALISM

Dates: 1930-1945

Origin: United States

Key Artists: Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton

a term applied to a group of American artists, Regionalists, prominent during the 1930s and early 1940s who concentrated on the realistic depiction of scenes and life of the midwest and deep south. Their motivation, like that of the urban scene painters, derived from a patriotic desire to establish a genuine American art freed from European influence. To this end, although there were considerable stylistic differences among the artists dubbed Regionalists, abstraction and other ‘imported’ styles were shunned and their work was largely conservative, designed to appeal to popular sensibility. In addition they were moved by a nostalgic desire to record rural and small town America threatened by growing industrial urbanization, and it was this which made their work so popular. Regionalists included the politically committed and vociferous Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, whose American Gothic (1930; Chicago, Art Inst.), despite its element of satire, may be seen as the movement’s icon, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and John Steuart Curry. Their portrayal of their subject matter was not always uncritical, Hopper, in particular, revealed the insularity and drabness typical of much small town life.

Rodgers, David. “Regionalism.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t118/e2190&gt;

Thomas Hart Benton

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