American Gothic by Grant Wood


American Gothic


Grant Wood

Ref SPQ5884
Type Print
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Wood's inspiration for the painting came while he was visiting the small town of Eldon in his native Iowa. There he spotted a little wood farmhouse, with a single oversized window, made in a style called Carpenter Gothic. “I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long to go with this American Gothic house.” The painting shows a farmer standing beside a woman that has been interpreted to be either his wife or his daughter. The figures were modelled by Wood's sister, Nan Wood Graham, and their dentist. The woman is dressed in a colonial print apron evoking 19th-century Americana, and the man is holding a pitchfork. The plants on the porch of the house are mother-in-law's tongue and geranium, which are the same plants as in Wood's 1929 portrait of his mother, ‘Woman with Plants’. ‘American Gothic’ is a painting in oil on Beaver Board, which is essentially a fiberboard building material, and held in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is one of the most familiar images in 20th-century American art, and has been widely parodied in American popular culture. Often understood as a satirical comment on the midwestern character; Yet Wood intended it to be a positive statement about rural American values.