Regionalism is an American realist modern art movement that was popular during the 1930s. The artistic focus was from artists who shunned city life, and rapidly developing technological advances, to create scenes of rural life. Regionalist style was at its height from 1930 to 1935, and is best-known through the so-called "Regionalist Triumvirate" of Grant Wood in Iowa, Thomas Hart Benton in Missouri, and John Steuart Curry in Kansas. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Regionalist art was widely appreciated for its reassuring images of the American heartland.
Regionalism bridged the gap between a completely Abstract art and Academic realism in much the same way that Impressionism and the Post-Impressionists like Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin among others had done in France a generation earlier. The Regionalists prepared the way for Abstract Expressionists to emerge in America. Jackson Pollock’s power as an artist was reinforced and he was encouraged and he benefited from the influence of Thomas Hart Benton in the art classes that Pollock took under Benton; while a student at the Art Students League of New York. Regionalism had a catalytic effect on later American art in a similar way that Post-Impressionism in Europe did via Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism and other movements.
In Grant Wood's pamphlet Revolt Against the City, published in Iowa City, 1935, he asserts that American artists and buyers of art were no longer looking to Parisian culture for subject matter and style. Wood wrote that Regional artists interpret physiography, industry, and psychology of their hometown, and that the competition of these preceding elements creates American culture. He wrote that the lure of the city was gone, and hopes that art of the widely diffused "whole people" would prevail. He cites Thomas Jefferson's characterization of cities as "ulcers on the body politic." Regionalism had a strong influence on popular culture. Regionalist-type imagery appeared in magazine advertisements, and influenced American children's book illustrators such as Holling Clancy Holling.