American Gothic Analysis Essay

American Gothic Analysis Essay-16
It’s not the predictable “American Gothic.” It’s “Death on Ridge Road” from 1935, which shows a red truck topping a hill on a winding country back road, getting ready to barrel down toward an oncoming car that’s swerving, uncontrollably, toward a collision.

It’s not the predictable “American Gothic.” It’s “Death on Ridge Road” from 1935, which shows a red truck topping a hill on a winding country back road, getting ready to barrel down toward an oncoming car that’s swerving, uncontrollably, toward a collision.Wood believe that art, like literature, must suggest a narrative, and there’s little doubt about how this story will play out.

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He was pudgy, near-sighted, and shy, a deeply closeted homosexual.

What it all added up to, in Haskell’s words, was “a conflicted, complex relationship between the artist and the homeland he professed to adore.”You see the conflict everywhere in the current show.

“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.

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).Other than Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” it would be hard to name a work of Western art that has been more exhaustively reproduced, parodied, pimped, praised, and disparaged than Grant Wood’s painting “American Gothic.” Just about everyone is familiar with its stern Iowa farmer gripping a pitchfork and glaring at the viewer as he stands with his wife (or is it his daughter?) in front of a clapboard farmhouse beneath an unblemished Midwestern sky.You see it in the subversively mocking pictures of Shriners and Daughters of the American Revolution, in the townfolk in “The Return From Bohemia” who peer over Wood’s shoulder as he paints and seem to be thinking “My nine-year-old could do better than that.” Through all the bucolic, sun-shocked farmscapes, through all the Norman Rockwell-esque images of people peeling fruit and milking cows, there is an undertow of emptiness, solitude, and loneliness.You can see echoes of Edward Hopper and hear echoes of Sherwood Anderson’s great novel . Tripp Evans finds an “indefinable dread” coursing through his subject’s life and work.His way was to work quietly, with guile and stealth.The dread may have been indefinable, but it is always there.We learn that Wood spoke disparagingly about the “Babbitty” nature of the Midwest and the “gloomy inhibitions” of small-town life there.Far from being an unschooled farmer-painter, he travelled repeatedly to Europe, studying Old Master paintings, mimicking the Impressionists, and leading a bohemian life that would have been unthinkable in the American heartland.Gertrude Stein, of all people, seems to have understood Wood’s response to this dread.After seeing “American Gothic,” she wrote, “We should fear Grant Wood.


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