American Gothic Analysis Essay

American Gothic Analysis Essay-37
Notices of the picture's popularity were carried in papers as far away as New York and Boston, and critics struggled with the meaning of the serious couple and the ambiguous title: "In the Chicago press, Charles Bulliet delighted in American Gothic as quaint, humorous, and AMERICAN,' while a critic in Boston saw the couple as grim religious fanatics. American Gothic would always remain his most famous and most enduring work, but others became well-known during the thirties; Stone City, Iowa, Parson Weem's Fable, and Midnight Ride of Paul Revere all achieved fame on their own, and then were purchased by such Hollywood names as Katherine Hepburn and Edward G. Grant Wood's rise to fame was a popular movement, propelled more by coverage in Time, Life and the New York Times than in academic journals of the day.He knew nothing of the artist, he admitted, but guessed Wood must have suffered tortures from these people who could not understand the joy of art within him and tried to crush his soul with their sheet iron brand of salvation'" ( qtd. The New York Times and Time primarily were interested in Wood as a mural painter and as a part of the Regionalist triumvirate--the other two being John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton (Jewell).

Notices of the picture's popularity were carried in papers as far away as New York and Boston, and critics struggled with the meaning of the serious couple and the ambiguous title: "In the Chicago press, Charles Bulliet delighted in American Gothic as quaint, humorous, and AMERICAN,' while a critic in Boston saw the couple as grim religious fanatics. American Gothic would always remain his most famous and most enduring work, but others became well-known during the thirties; Stone City, Iowa, Parson Weem's Fable, and Midnight Ride of Paul Revere all achieved fame on their own, and then were purchased by such Hollywood names as Katherine Hepburn and Edward G. Grant Wood's rise to fame was a popular movement, propelled more by coverage in Time, Life and the New York Times than in academic journals of the day.He knew nothing of the artist, he admitted, but guessed Wood must have suffered tortures from these people who could not understand the joy of art within him and tried to crush his soul with their sheet iron brand of salvation'" ( qtd. The New York Times and Time primarily were interested in Wood as a mural painter and as a part of the Regionalist triumvirate--the other two being John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton (Jewell).

The dread may have been indefinable, but it is always there.The response of his critics ten years later to a retrospective show in Chicago is surprisingly virulent and borders, at times, on malevolence.However, even during his best years in the early 1930s, Wood was rarely given the serious consideration that came with his revival in the 1970s.Many of those misperceptions can be laid on Wood himself, a native of Iowa who was happy to promote himself as a homespun farmer-painter, an artist-in-overalls who embodied the wholesome, virile, patriotic virtues supposedly present in his art.This reading was boosted by an earlier retrospective at the Whitney, , in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan was busy making America believe it was great again by selling his “Morning in America” snake-oil optimism, which Americans bought wholesale because it felt so reassuring after the shocks and convulsions of the ’60s and ’70s.Wood burst onto the American art scene in the thirties with his submission of American Gothic to the jury for the annual exhibition of American paintings and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.The painting was admitted and awarded the Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal, as well as a three hundred dollar prize, and it was quickly purchased by the Friends of American Art at the Institute for another three hundred dollars.“The place had a largely rural feel,” I wrote, “a small town surrounded by carpets of cornfields and orchards, livestock, and silos.Sometimes I would round a curve on a back road and have to stop the car because the landscape in front of me was so ridiculously gorgeous I could have sworn it had just finished posing for Grant Wood.” Three pages later I added a perception Wood might have appreciated: “I soon realized that through all this stay-at-home, God-fearing, heartland decency, there ran a streak of untamable bull-goose lunacy.” That lunacy led to some of the more spectacular stories I covered for the local paper, tales of arson, kidnapping, rape, murder, incest, the paranormal.You see it in Wood’s portrait of his mother, in what he described as her “bleak, faraway, timeless” eyes.You see it in “Arnold Comes of Age,” a portrait of Wood’s studio assistant, who appears to ache with a longing for something he’ll never be able to name.

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