Perhaps in the truest of American habits, Grant Wood's mature style plucks differing and sometimes opposing artistic traditions, strips them of their extraneous elements, and recombines them into the style that Wood merely and inexactly called "decorative" (Corn, 74). Some critics went so far as to purpose that Wood's work was nothing more than "gift shop art" ("Chicago Critic Attacks Wood's Art"); these short-sighted individuals failed to acknowledge the artistic currents swirling through Wood's studied style. Wood had a solid grounding in the Arts & Crafts movement, as well as an appreciation for folk art of his region. He was well aware of both the American landscape tradition of Beirstadt and Cole of the nineteenth century, and the modernist and Art Deco currents that took American art and architecture by storm during the twenties and thirties. And although Wood's Return from Bohemia celebrated his repudiation of European influences and the inevitable "artistic colonialism" that he felt was the lot of young American artists who did not adhere to the tenets of regionalism, Wood's most obvious references are to German, French and Northern Renaissance movements.

Wood also drew inspiration from more local sources. As the interior designer for many of Cedar Rapids upper-crust families, and a lover of the stage, Wood knew about the creation of theatrical settings and balanced, pleasing arrangements. Many of his paintings have a stage-lit air about them and a controlled recession reminiscent of the theater. Wood was "an eclectic thinker and omnivorous borrower" (Corn, 74); traced back to their origins, his practices contradict some of his more severe regionalist rhetoric.

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