How the ‘American Gothic’ Painting Represents Survivors of the Great Depression

Rare | 2/13/2020 | Moriah Gill
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The American Gothic painting is known around the world as one of the most famous oil paintings. Painted in 1930 by Grant Wood, it currently lives in the Art Institute of Chicago. The American Gothic was inspired by the early 1900’s life and Flemish Renaissance art, which Wood studied in his travels to Europe. However, he painted something closer to what he saw in his everyday life for this piece. Living in Iowa, he incorporated midwestern culture into his work. The inspiration for the painting came when Wood encountered a white house, with a large window in the style known as Carpenter Gothic. Wood sketched it onto an envelope to use as a background for a future painting.

Who Is In The Painting?

Characters - Image - Interpretation - Couple - Painting

The characters portrayed in the image are very ambiguous and are open to interpretation. Many speculate about the couple in the painting. Most lands on the assumption the man and woman pictured are supposed to be husband and wife. However, the characters are actually a father-daughter pair, not husband-wife. The individuals pictured are modeled after Wood’s sister, Nan and Wood’s dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby.

The father and daughter are set in rural America. The woman is in a colonial print apron and her father is holding a pitchfork, wearing overalls. They represent the people who live in the midwest, their expressions meant to be representative of a form of strength. Their faces are stretched longer....
(Excerpt) Read more at: Rare
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