Grant Wood was not as his biographers all insist - a simple minded 'bohemian' or 'Regionalist. Almost his entire oeuvre including his most celebrated painting American Gothic was built around phallic imagery! Wood was also keenly aware of the rise of Hitler in Germany, his anti-Semitism and his denunciation of gays and other social outcasts. Knowing himself to be a member of one of these groups Wood expressed his horror of Nazism in his work but laid it carefully between the lines. Likewise, Charles Sheeler was not as his biographers all insist a 'Precisionist' hooked on the solid forms and straight lines of American factories and barns. He was in fact searching along with other members of the Paris to New York Avant-garde for a way to include the fourth dimension in two-dimensional pictures. And George H. Durrie did not as his one biographer insists paint any of the four 'genre' pictures long attributed to him, which are the work of his lesser-known but superior contemporary James Goodwyn Clonney.
James H. Maroney, Jr. holds a B.A. in art history from Columbia University (1972), a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1999) and a Masters in Environmental Law & Policy from Vermont Law School (2012). He has served as Head of American Paintings at both Sotheby's (1967-74) and Christie's (1991-93) in New York. He has published several articles on American paintings and the art world including "Gauging the Art Market by its Broad Indicators and Never Mind Bill Gates" (Maine Antique Digest, November 2001); "Why Sotheby's is a Dead Letter" (Maine Antique Digest, June 2001); and "Charles Sheeler Reveals the Machinery of His Soul" (American Art, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, Summer 1999). Maroney also served on the IRS Art Advisory Panel (1975-77) and was a member of the Art Dealers Association of America. From 1969-1974, Maroney owned and operated (4 acres) Horsefly Farm in Bedford NY, which was certified organic by Rodale Press in 1969. From 1986 to 1996 Maroney owned and operated Oliver Hill Farm in Leicester VT (900 acres), with 125 cows milking and 600 acres in crops, the third dairy to become organic in Vermont and possibly the largest Certified Organic dairy farm in New England. In 2008, he wrote The Political Economy of Milk (Gala Books Ltd), a critique of the American dairy industry and a proposal for remedying the farm crisis in Vermont.
"Hiding in Plain Sight: Decoding the Homoerotic and Socio-Political Imagery of Grant Wood is an incisive and indispensable re-reading of Grant Wood's mature oeuvre. Maroney sharpens our eyes to the possibility that Wood's queer irony has always been visible and yet somehow generations of viewers, scholars and commentators have failed to see it." - John Seery
"Calling Sheeler a Precisionist has always been a convenient way of establishing over time a modernist stylistic niche for him, but it hasn't always helped viewers find a wider range of meaning in his work. James Maroney has finally 'outed' Sheeler with an approach that suggests how nuanced and witty Sheeler could be, especially when introducing complex narratives into his seemingly sober, straightforward compositions." - William Truettner
"Of course, you're right. Once you make the suggestion, the image seems obvious. Nice homework!" - John Wilmerding
"James Maroney's discovery of steganographic meaning in 'Wood's work is compelling, especially as we learn more of his not all-together transparent life. Developed with care and precision by the author, who has a long association with the artist's work, it is difficult to ignore that which finally emerges from the shadows -- an artist whose careful observation of the rural scene attempting to conceal his inner soul. Consciously and sub-consciously Wood showed us who he was." - Sam Sachs, Director Emeritus The Frick Collection
"James Maroney's breakthrough study of Charles Sheeler's hitherto unacknowledged preoccupation with the fourth dimension (spacetime) represents a quantum leap in our understanding of an artist whose work has often baffled critics and historians. Required reading for anyone with an interest in twentieth-century American culture." - Alan Wallach, Ralph H. Wark Professor of Art and Art History and Professor of American Studies Emeritus College of William and MaryEmeritus