Portrait of an artist

Wheaton Professor of Art History R. Tripp Evans’s new biography Grant Wood: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf) will be released tomorrow, October 5. It already has received a big boost from a favorable review in the New York Times.

-The New York Times review, which calls Evans’s book “provocative,” focuses on the fact the professor gets behind the façade of the artist who is best known for his painting “American Gothic.” Who doesn’t know that iconic couple with the stern faces and the pitchfork?

According to the New York Times review: “Mr. Evans offers intensive analysis of ‘American Gothic’ as well as many other Wood paintings, most notably ‘Parson Weems’ Fable’ (1939), which rivals ‘American Gothic’ for tacit but turbulent complexity…”

In addition to survey courses, Evans teaches courses in modern architecture, the art of the United States, and Native American/pre-Columbian art. He also has recently developed a number of specialized courses in African American art, the development of the skyscraper, and feminist art history.

Currently on sabbatical for the 2010-2011 academic year, the professor began his book tour last week at the Wisconsin Book Festival. He will continue the tour through December, visiting 16 cities overall in the United States and Canada, including stops at the National Portrait Gallery, and nine locations in the artist’s native Iowa. The full tour schedule (as well as an excerpt from the book) is available at www.grantwoodalife.com.

For the past few years, Evans’s scholarship has been devoted to the life and work of Grant Wood. “The book reflects my fascination with 1930s modernism, and in particular, with the way nationalist themes in American art have often been driven by highly personal motive,” he said. “This is a favorite theme in the American art classes I teach at Wheaton, and one that I hope to expand upon when I return next fall.”