Wood began his education in the one-room Antioch School. After his father died in 1901, the Wood family moved to Cedar Rapids. He attended art school in Minneapolis and later enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Grant's most famous work is American Gothic, depicting a man and a woman standing in front of the Carpenter Gothic house known as the Dibble House. The man was a dentist, the woman was Wood's sister, they did not pose together nor did either of them ever stand in front of the house. The painting was entered in a contest at the Art Institute of Chicago where it won a bronze medal and $300.00. The Art Institute bought the painting and it remains in the collection today.
Grant Wood died in 1942, at the age of 50, of pancreatic cancer.