Today's piece, Grant Wood's At The Gate, appeals to me because of its keen observation of natural light in an urban environment. Better known for his American Gothic, Wood produced this work during one of his visits to Europe during the 1920s, and I would assume this was a random study of a scene he encountered during his travels. No ambitious themes or curious overtones here--just light passing through an unidentified street scene. Considering all the famous European attractions Wood could've selected for his canvas, I would describe his choice of subject here as humbling. I figure most art historians wouldn’t give this painting much consideration, just because it really does have the feel of a young artist still finding his voice. It's hardly representative of Wood's larger body of work, but it would probably make a nice, whimsical postcard.
But still, isn't it a lovely painting? As a sign of the times, I discovered At the Gate while scrolling through my Pinterest, and I was immediately taken aback. It’s amazing how an otherwise unassuming entryway on the street can appear so imposing simply by the power of light and shadow, and I imagine Wood crossed this spectacle on the street and felt to need to document it accordingly. Perhaps this particular gate held a special significance to the artist, or maybe not. I couldn’t find anything through my own personal research. Where did the gate lead into? In what city might this scene have been found? I would say those questions are, for the most part, unimportant. Unless I’m mistaken, I’d say the light was the true star of this piece.