Born and raised in the American Midwest, Marvin Cone became known for his regionalist art style a modern art movement that became popular during the 1930’s. Cone graduated at Coe College in 1914 and he also studied at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. During his earlier years while attending school he developed a close friendship with Grant Wood which developed into a lifelong business and personal friendship. He studied at briefly at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and upon returning back to the U.S. Cone was accepted to a teaching position at his alma mater, Coe College.
Marvin Cone and his friend Grant Wood became actively involved with the local art association (now the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art). Together they traveled overseas in the 1920’s to continue their training. It was while traveling in France he created several impressionistic paintings capturing the landscapes and cityscapes. This trip would have a lasting effect upon his painting for the remainder of his life.
Cone married, raised his family and continued to teach at Coe College in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Marvin Cone never achieved great fame in the art world, but he was very highly respected by his contemporaries.
Marvin Cone once said, “The purpose of art is not to reproduce life, but to present an editorial, a comment on life…. The artist does not set out to imitate nature. What would be the purpose of that? Let the camera with its clever mechanism imitate. Art, such as poetry, music, and painting, is simply a portion of the experience of the artist. When we actually see ideals, they become real to us. Art traces an abstraction and makes it audible or visual. It symbolizes the whole of life. We believe in something we can see.”