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Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Grant Wood. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.

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Grant Wood American artist. See Article History. Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The Regionalist painter Grant Wood , a professor at the university at the time, encouraged her to present images drawn from black culture and experience and influenced her decision to concentrate on sculpture.

Wood said he wanted her to appear just as self-righteous as the man, but surely the painting goes against this. She is detached from him, has other views in mind, an inner life of her own.

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The magnitude of response to American Gothic shows how profoundly it speaks to Americans, yet what does it say? When it appears at the Royal Academy alongside other s regionalist paintings praising the soil of the land, its meaning may be clearer.

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If Wood seemed practically a city slicker to some backwood Iowans, he was catnip to urban citizens, who saw in his rolling hills and sweeping cornfields, his idolisations of farm workers in solo paintings and the starring part he gave to the gothic couple — poor people taking the place of the aristocrats in Renaissance art — an answer to the Great Depression. Not for nothing, one feels, is the painting signed and dated on the denim overalls — signifying the labour that made America great.

If these are the moral guardians, he seems to be asking, then have we placed our trust in the right people?


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Are they the face of the future or that of the past? The picture shows a way of life fading away even as Wood painted it, for many rural Iowans were already leaving for the city by Yet it touched people so deeply that canny newspapers kept printing reproductions that readers could tack to the wall through the 30s; and rickrack braid made its comeback. For the image represents a common shared history, a rock-solid past upon which the present is still and forever based, a toughness and probity that builds houses like this, that protects the land, that keeps America upright.

The couple may be Democrats, advocates of social and economic equality, ready to open that barn to the whole farming community. Or they may be Trumpers, refusing to be ignored any more, determined to see the Washington elite overturned. But they still live in the same land of the free. A church spire rises in the distance beyond the green trees.

God Bless America! Shape is everything in his composition. The long narrow faces make a quartet with the long narrow windows. Indeed, the whole painting is constructed as neatly as the house itself — people bonded with home. Was it for this that his soldiers died? American Gothic holds its own; it can admit every kind of interpretation because its structure is so sound. They appear extraordinarily particular, not to say familiar — you can summon them to mind as readily as the Mona Lisa — and yet they also represent the common people, are both themselves, yet recognisable types.

That is the exceptional balancing act the artist achieves.


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You would know them anywhere, and yet these folks are like all of us — outwardly open, infinitely complex inside. Facebook Twitter Pinterest.

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