No Subject Off-Limits in Grant Wood’s Secrets Talk at Figge Art Museum
March 3, 2020

No Subject Off-Limits in Grant Wood’s Secrets Talk at Figge Art Museum

Davenport, Iowa (March 3, 2020) – The Figge Art Museum will welcome Sue Taylor, Grant Wood scholar and author of Grant Wood’s Secrets, on Sunday, March 8. Taylor will kick off her Iowa tour at the Figge with a talk about artist Grant Wood that will reveal secrets about Wood's personal life and the impact it had on his art.

From Wood’s close relationship with his mother to how he posed as masculine to hide his homosexuality from his rural community, nothing will be off limits. Taylor, who is a Professor Emerita of Art History at Portland State University, will stay after the talk for a Q&A session.

“Understanding aspects of Wood’s inner life and familial relationships will give audiences deeper insights and appreciation for Wood’s work,” says Figge Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave. “The museum is excited to have Sue Taylor share her extraordinary knowledge of Wood with the people of the Quad Cities.” 

The talk will run from 2:30-3:30 the Figge’s second floor John Deere Auditorium followed by the Q&A. Taylor will be signing copies of Grant Wood’s Secrets in the Museum Store beginning at 4 p.m. The book will be available for purchase in the Museum Store for $39.95. The book signing is open to the public and free of charge.

The talk is free for Figge members and $10 for non-members (includes admission), but registration is required and space is limited. To secure your spot, please visit

Sue Taylor’s visit is made possible through the support of the Grant Wood Art Colony at the University of Iowa. The Colony celebrates the life and legacy of Iowa’s most famous artist, Grant Wood, through fellowships, symposia and outreach. Taylor’s book Grant Wood’s Secrets, continues a tradition of excellent scholarship of this important Regionalist artist.

About the book: Incorporating copious archival research and original close readings of American artist Grant Wood’s iconic as well as lesser-known works, Grant Wood’s Secrets reveals how his sometimes anguished psychology was shaped by his close relationship with his mother and how he channeled his lifelong oedipal guilt into his art. Presenting Wood’s abortive autobiography "Return from Bohemia" for the first time ever, Sue Taylor integrates the artist’s own recollections into interpretations of his art. As Wood dressed in overalls and boasted about his beloved Midwest, he consciously engaged in regionalist strategies, performing a farmer masquerade of sorts. In doing so, he also posed as conventionally masculine, hiding his homosexuality from his rural community. Thus, he came to experience himself as a double man. This book conveys the very real threats under which Wood lived and pays tribute to his resourceful responses, which were often duplicitous and have baffled art historians who typically take them at face value.

About Grant Wood:
Grant Wood was an American painter who was born in rural Iowa and best known for his work depicting the rural American Midwest. In 1930, he exhibited his most famous painting, American Gothic. Among the most iconic and recognizable images in American art, it helped propel Wood to fame and launch the Regionalist movement, of which Wood became the spokesperson.   

Book Review:
Grant Wood’s Secrets has the makings of a landmark study. Beyond its far-reaching contributions to Wood scholarship, it also represents a signal achievement in queer studies and studies of masculinity. Wood experts will find a great deal that is new here, and those less familiar with his work will discover an artist whose life and career illuminate the story of American painting in exciting new ways."

R. Tripp Evans, Wheaton College, author of Grant Wood: A Life

About the Figge Art Museum:
The Figge Art Museum is located on the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. On Thursdays, the museum is open until 9 p.m. Admission to the museum and tour is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID, and $4 children ages 4-12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and always free to all on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Figge Café is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit


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225 West Second Street
Davenport, Iowa



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