Artist: Grant Wood
Title: American Gothic
Medium: Oil on beaverboard
Dimensions of original work: 29 1/4 x 24 1/2 in. (74.3 x 62.4 cm)
Where to see it: The Art Institute of Chicago
About this Work:
American Gothic was meant to depict an anonymous farmer (with no apparent sense of humor) and his daughter. They are standing in front of an Iowan farmhouse built in the Carpenter Gothic style that Sears, Roebuck and Co. used to sell as kits, hence the "Gothic" part of the title.
The models for this painting were Grant Wood's sister, Nan (1900-1990), and the local dentist Dr. Byron H. McKeeby (1867-1950). Wood, however, successfully blurred their age difference to the point that I, for one, thought they were supposed to represent a married couple until taking art history classes in college.
For U.S. citizens, American Gothic is our Mona Lisa. The painting is both recognized around the world and the subject of numerous parodies. Unlike the Mona Lisa's imaginary background, though, anyone can visit this farmhouse.
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