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Famous Paintings: American Gothic by Grant Wood

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American Gothic is probably the most famous of all the paintings American artist Grant Wood ever created. It is now in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Famous Paintings American Gothic by Grant Wood

Curator Jane Milosch at the Smithsonian American Art Museum alongside the famous painting by Grant Wood called "American Gothic". Size of painting: 78x65 cm (30 3/4 x 25 3/4 in). Oil paint on Beaver Board.

Photo © Shealah Craighead/White House/Getty Images

Grant Wood painted "American Gothic" in 1930. It depicts a man and his daughter (not his wife1) standing in front of their house. Grant saw the building which inspired the painting in Eldon, Iowa. The architectural style is American Gothic, which is where the paintings gets its title. The models for the painting were Wood's sister and their dentist.2. The painting is signed on near the bottom edge, on the man's overalls, with the artist's name and the year (Grant Wood 1930).

What does the painting mean? Wood intended it to be a dignified rendering of the character of Midwestern Americans, showing their Puritan ethics. But it could be regarded as a comment (satire) on the intolerance of rural populations to outsiders. The symbolism in the painting includes hard labor (the pitch fork) and domesticity (flower pots and colonial-print apron). If you look closely, you'll see the three prongs of the pitch fork echoed in the stitching on the man's overalls, continuing up the stripes on his shirt.

American Gothic, Art Institute of Chicago, retrieved 23 March 2011.
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