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Marvin Cone

A colleague of Grant Wood and founder of the art department at Coe College, Marvin Cone is a renowned artist and painter in his own right.

Marvin Cone was born in Cedar Rapids and graduated from Washington High School, then Coe College, and finally the Art Institute in Chicago.

Cone returned to his alma mater in 1919 to begin his teaching career in the foreign language department. While teaching French, he gradually developed the college's art department until he was devoting all his time to teaching art. Even after his retirement in 1960, Marvin Cone stayed on at Coe College for three years as an artist-in-residence.

Cone's interest in Iowa and Cedar Rapids art dated back to when he was a student at Washington High and he and his good friend, Grant Wood, worked as teenage volunteers for the Cedar Rapids Art Association. The two helped pack and unpack exhibits, swept floors, and spent many nights on cots in the art center, fulfilling insurance company requirements for the security for the exhibitions.

Marvin Cone and Grant Wood spent a year together in Paris, painting things typically French, and following the impressionistic pattern of the day. When they returned to Iowa, they dropped the French influence and began painting Iowa as they saw it.

The swing to regional art during the Depression years put Wood and Cone out front as leading interpreters of the Iowa and Midwest scene. And Marvin Cone, who always painted what he liked, the way he liked, grew famous with his clown series, his red barns, his haunted houses and doors. Later he concentrated on abstractions.

At one time or another, his work has been exhibited in every major U. S. gallery and many of his paintings are part of this country's most important permanent collections.

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