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Grant Wood (1891-1942)
Grant Wood (1891-1942)

Study for 'The American Golfer'

Grant Wood (1891-1942)
Study for 'The American Golfer'
signed and dated 'Grant Wood--1937' (lower left)
charcoal and chalk on brown paper laid down on masonite
38 ¼ x 50 ¼ in. (97.2 x 127.6 cm.)
Executed in 1937.
Mr. Charles Campbell, the sitter.
Mrs. Merrill Taylor, Kalamazoo, Michigan, daughter of the above.
By descent to the present owners.
D. Garwood, Artist in Iowa: A Life of Grant Wood, New York, 1944, p. 212.

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Lot Essay

The present large-scale and complex drawing executed in preparation for Grant Wood's The American Golfer (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas), is a classic example of the artist's signature Regionalist style and depicts Charles Campbell, a successful banker from Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the picturesque landscape of Wood's native Midwest. Campbell’s son-in-law, Merrill Taylor, asked Wood to produce a portrait of his father-in-law, and, after spending a week at Campbell’s home, the artist agreed to the commission. In a June 26, 1937, letter to Taylor, Wood's former wife writes, "...Grant wants to make a fine portrait of Mr. Campbell. This desire on his part is prompted by real admiration for Mr. Campbell and a genuine liking for all of you. In other words, he feels you are extremely worthwhile citizens."

By the late 1930s, "drawing assumed a central importance in [Wood's] output, and he frequently produced drawings that were at least as complex, if not more so, than the paintings for which they were supposedly ‘studies.’” (L.R. DeLong, When Tillage Begins, Other Arts Follow: Grant Wood and Christian Petersen Murals, Ames, Iowa, 2006, p. 252) Executed in painstaking detail, with a series of cross hatches and stippled dots, the surface of the present work takes on an elaborate, decorative rhythm, echoed throughout much of his work in this media. In Study for The American Golfer, Wood has captured Campbell at the end of his golf swing, as he appears in the final version. He renders his imposing figure with white hair and piercing blue eyes, which captured in charcoal and colored chalk adopt an almost ethereal quality.

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