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Regionalism in Art: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

A 'region' is a part of a country. What could 'regionalism' have to do with art? Find out in this lesson as you read about some famous regionalist artists, what they painted, and their most famous paintings.

Technology or Not?

Have you ever thought what life would be like without technology? It might be hard to believe, but some people find it more relaxing and enjoyable to live without much technology. Instead of using cell phones and televisions, they participate in activities such as hiking, reading, or just talking!

Even back in the 1930s, some people wanted to get away from technology. At that time, there were mostly just radios and movies, but televisions were starting to become more popular. Cars were replacing horses and wagons, and telephones were becoming more available. To some people living then, this was too much technology. They wanted to go back to the simple things before these ''modern conveniences'' came into their lives.

Chilmark Landscape by Thomas Hart Benton
chilmark

These people were artists, mostly from the Midwestern United States. They started to paint in a style called Regionalism or sometimes ''American Regionalism.'' Unlike most art movements, these painters didn't all paint in the same way. What they had in common was what they were painting, not how they painted it. They all painted scenes from everyday life in rural America. ''Rural'' means out in the country. These artists painted scenes of country life, focusing on the region of the country in which they lived. Let's find out about some of these artists.

American Regionalist Artists

The three most important artists who painted in the American Regionalist style were Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry.

Grant Wood

You might not recognize Grant Wood's name, but you've probably seen his most famous painting, American Gothic. A native of Iowa, Grant lived there when he created his paintings of rural life.

American Gothic by Grant Wood
gothic

He once said he ''got all his best ideas for painting while milking a cow.'' Even though this was not really true, he said it to show that he got his inspiration from the simple things, such as living on a farm.

Thomas Hart Benton

Unlike Grant Wood, who lived in Iowa while he painted pictures of rural scenes in that state, Thomas Hart Benton lived in New York City for some of the time he painted images of life in rural Missouri. Benton is most well-known for his use of many curved lines and his use of bold colors.

Benton was interested in music and sound as well as painting, and many of his paintings show the importance of music in rural America. He's best known for his murals, which are very large paintings.

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