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American Gothic


Artwork Details

American Gothic
Oil on beaverboard
62.4 x 74.3 cm
© Creative Commons

why we love it

“American Gothic” has become one of the most recognizable images in American art.
Its portrayal of a stern farmer and a woman, often interpreted as his daughter, in front of a Gothic Revival house has been widely parodied and referenced, making it a cultural icon. With with satire, irony and complexity it captures the stoicism, resilience, and simplicity of the Midwest’s agrarian culture, providing a visual document of an era and its values.
The work offers a fascinating glimpse into life in rural Midwest America and seems to be a satire of the repressive nature of small-town American life in the 1930s.
It is not only the central characters, but rather the small house, known as the “Dibble House,” in the Carpenter Gothic style, that inspired this painting, in which the artist Grant Wood created perhaps the most well-known work of American art of the 20th century.

Wood emulates the style of Flemish Renaissance painters, like his idol Van Eyck, in a portrait that has provoked multiple interpretations, with people thinking the characters were a married farmer couple, though in reality, they were meant to be a father and his daughter, and the models were unrelated.

The local people did not like it, as they saw themselves portrayed as religious fanatic puritans, although Wood intended it to be a positive statement about American rural values. 1930 was a very difficult year in the United States during the Great Depression, after the Crash of 1929, and artists, instead of following avant-garde trends like in Europe, became social chroniclers.

Wood won a prize for this work and sold it for only $300 to the Art Institute of Chicago. Today, one of his landscapes can fetch around seven million dollars.

This is just our small bit, let your curiosity do the rest.
February 13, 1891
February 12, 1942

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