American Gothic

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Grant Wood American Gothic.jpg

American Gothic is a painting by American artist Grant Wood. The subjects in the painting are a farmer and woman looking gaunt. The man holds a pitchfork and both wear severe expressions. The models for the two characters were Wood's dentist and his sister, who never posed together. The house was selected because of its pretentious upstairs Gothic window. The painting was controversial when it was first exhibited in 1930. It is at the Art Institute of Chicago.

It is not satire, but a portrayal of rural moral virtue. The artist Wood:

intended it to be a positive statement about rural American values, an image of reassurance at a time of great dislocation and disillusionment. The man and woman, in their solid and well-crafted world, with all their strengths and weaknesses, represent survivors. [1]

CNN listed this painting among the top 15 most famous paintings in the world, after the Mona Lisa as #1.[2]

Controversy

American Gothic remains one of the most famous paintings in the history of American art. It is a primary example of Regionalism, a movement that aggressively opposed European abstract art, preferring depictions of rural American subjects rendered in a representational style. The painting has become part of American popular culture, and the couple has been the subject of endless parodies. Some believe that Wood used this painting to satirize the narrow-mindedness and repression that has been said to characterize Midwestern culture, an accusation Wood denied. The painting is thought by most to be a glorification of the moral virtue of rural America.

It depicts a real structure: the American Gothic House located in Eldon, Iowa, a bit east of Ottumwa.

References