AMERICAN ICON: American Gothic by Grant Wood

AMERICAN ICON: American Gothic by Grant Wood


In August of 1930 artist Grant Wood was
driving through his home state of Iowa in search of inspiration when he came
upon this small rural house, a plain unremarkable building except for this
ostentatious gothic window. Intrigued Wood came back the next day and made a
small oil sketch for a planned larger work. Wood speculated about the people who
lived there; who they were, what they looked like. By the time Wood returned to his
studio the idea of the painting had morphed into a double-portrait, featuring
a man and a woman of Grant’s own invention, with the house as the unifying
architectural element. The painting was American Gothic, woods most famous work
and an American icon. Like much of his work it illustrates the virtuous and
stoic nature of the rural American character. In Woods world, hard work,
friendship, love of family and patriotism are extolled quietly with reverence,
while devoid of sentimentality. Though it’s often assumed that the man and
woman were husband and wife, Wood stated it was supposed to be a father and his
daughter. The two models were, in fact, Wood’s sister man and his dentist. As a
young man would journey to Europe several times to study the work of the
Impressionists, but was inextricably bound to the people and landscape of his
birthplace. As grant would later state, “I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa.”
The tiny house still stands today in Eldon Iowa as an historic landmark where
visitors are encouraged to don the famous outfits seen in the painting and
have their picture taken. I’m Larry withers and this has been your
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