June 24, Grant Wood. The Art Institute of Chicago. Friends of American Art Collection.
Grant Wood was not all he seemed. In the s he became famous in the US as one of the leading figures in the Regionalist movement, an anti-modern, anti-European campaign for a purely and folklorically American art.
Regionalist painters rejected the big cosmopolitan cities and depicted, in quite homely ways, rural America. This was the one American art movement that came from, and identified with, the midwestern heartland, rather than the east coast or California.
Wood hailed from and lived in small-town Iowa, and painted archaic visions of an America of little hamlets nestling in rounded hills under the beacon of a white-painted church. Yet unlike Thomas Hart Benton, the self-promoting leader of the movement, Wood was a quiet, elusive figure with a fondness for European art.
In the s he made four trips to Europe. His style was formed by the art he saw there, most of all northern renaissance artists such as Van Eyck, but also the s German neue sachlichkeit new objectivity movement.
His painting The Midnight Ride of Paul Reverein the Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York, despite its nationalist theme, is an eerie vision of a lonely rider hurtling through an ivory-coloured slumbering town by moonlight. They are keeping us out of their world rather than showing it off.
The close-packed bodies of the 19th-century farmer and his spinster daughter played by Nan and McKeeby form a wall between us and the white wooden house. The house itself is a second closing of space, its front wall impenetrably neat, with blinds pulled down over the windows.
Only behind that do we glimpse the blue sky and round puffy trees of pastoral joy. The farmer is at once genteelly studious, like a clerk, and aggressive, as if he has a serious temper.
He looks at us in a no-nonsense way, and that pitchfork he holds is extremely phallic and sharp: Her gaze is anxiously sidelong. She might be watching some boys, wondering if they are about to steal apples, or seeing a man she had feelings for ride past with his new city wife.
She wears an ornate brooch that suggests another, distant world of passion and desire, at odds with her neat white collar and tightly tied hair. Behind her ear hangs a wisp of loose, curling golden hair that suggests suppressed sensuality.
People have argued about where this painting stands on midwestern, American heartland values ever since it was first exhibited.
Wood denied that it was satirical. He proclaimed his sincere belief in the values of hearth and home. And yet it is impossible to deny the strangeness of this American masterpiece, in which nothing is quite as stable as a first glance might suggest.
It is fictive in multiple ways.
It is a 19th-century picture painted in the 20th century. It is an apparently naive painting by a sophisticated artist. Even the title is ambiguous. American Gothic refers to the architecture of the house, but also unavoidably has associations with Edgar Allan Poe and big-city prejudices about in-marrying, psychopathic country folk.
The weirdest ambiguities surround the house. That pointed medieval-style window suggests to some viewers a church; indeed, were it not for the potted plants on the porch and the decorative blind, we might mistake it for a house of the Lord.
But in a private house, it has other implications. Given the plain self-presentation of these people, the medieval window between their heads is incongruously flamboyant, a bit of fantasy that sits oddly with the whitewashed clapboard and the sombre dress.
One feels this strange architecture might have inspired the painting - as if, seeing the house, Wood had wondered about its original inhabitants. There is something odd about that window and the concealed upstairs room behind it. Anything could go on up there.
The Art Institute of Chicago.What is the meaning of the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood? Why is this piece of art so famous and popular? Read our critique, interpretation and analysis of this famous example of 20th century American regional art. Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic or neo-Gothic) is an architectural movement that began in the late s in England.
Its popularity grew rapidly in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time.
American Gothic, often understood as a satirical comment on the midwestern character, quickly became one of America’s most famous paintings and is now firmly entrenched in the nation’s popular culture. Mar 18, · Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting (and all of its parodies) may be legendary, but most people don’t realize that the little white farmhouse in the background is real — that it’s.
Several elements enter into the balance of Grant Wood's famous painting, American Gothic: line, shape, color, design, symbolism--even a certain ambiguity.
Line- For the most part, there is the. Sep 20, · How did American Gothic go from third place painting to icon? There's a story to this famous painting.
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