Grant Wood’s 1930 painting “American Gothic” triggers 21st century versions


Question: How good is America”american gothic“, Grant Wood’s 1930 painting of a stern-faced Iowa farmer wielding a pitchfork standing next to his anxious-looking daughter?

An Essay in Hyperallergic Magazine by a Culture Writer Sarah Rose Sharp raises my question. She points to several contemporary takeoffs of painting, saying they are “in pursuit of the representation of the real america.”

The good old days?

If “American Gothic” is a symbol of our identity as Sharp thinks, then poor, poor America. Wood’s pinched-faced portrait of the farmer and his daughter is as dark as Van Gogh’s dark”potato eaters stands as a hearty picnic in comparison.

“American Gothic” is also scary. The girl is visibly scared. And who wouldn’t stand next to a a sullen man with a pitchfork?

Why DrinkThe painting of is so popular is beyond my comprehension. But again, I don’t understand why mona-lisa gets so much attention either, so you can’t pass by me.

One of the works that Sharp cited as an example of the flight of “American Gothic” is by Nathan Sawayaknown for using Lego bricks to form pictures.

In his block interpretation of “american gothic“, Sawaya says he used 8,000 lego bricks to create the figures. As far as I’m concerned, the blocky look perfectly tells the true story of Wood’s painting – rigid and unyielding.

“I wanted to capture the stern looks in my portrayal,” Sawaya Told Sharp.

His Lego interpretation takes up the forbidding look of Wood’s painting. You imagine the farmer saying to everyone who comes, “If you don’t leave my land, I’m going to stab you with my pitchfork.”

And with that menacing look, the farmer seems to be insinuating that his midwestarms is the real America, and anywhere else – all those big cities with their urban liberalism – are foreign countries.

It is worth considering the second word in the title of Wood’s image – “Gothic” – a architectural style out of the Middle Ages, marked by the semicircular windows of the farmhouse behind the figures.

medieval redux

But just as Wood’s vision of America is a puzzle, his reference to Gothic. The style was born out of an attempt to form a pretty image in brutal times.

Consider the Very Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral which cast a spell of romance and ancient days when knights slayed dragons. Think about by Victor Hugo “The hunchback of Notre-Dame de Paris.” Gothic architecture offered fairy tales to people who needed to escape harshness middle ages.

Did Wood tell us that his painting, made when the Great Depression brought down America, was this the portrait of firmness in the face of adversity?

Or is it a satire ridiculing the rigidity of small town life? A satire is like British art criticism Robert Hughes saw Wood’s chart. In his 1997 book “American Vision: The Epic of American Art Historywhen he asked this question:

“Been Drink making fun… of the people of Iowa and their fetishized values ​​of sobriety, moral vigilance, patriarchyand the rest?

Or was he… praising these virtues? »

Hughes decided that both answers were true, stating that Drink probably couldn’t decide. I’m not that ambivalent. The fact that he named his painting after the architectural style created expressly to relieve the misery of the Middle Ages with the appearance of fairytale castles tells you his intention.

Admittedly, there is Nope flying buttressesextravagant tracery or stained glass, the stuff of fairy tale castles that characterizes Gothic architecture. The style is also called pointed architecture, and that’s what you get on the farm.

It’s also hard to ignore the wary eyes of the daughter, the piercing eyes of her father and, well, his forbidden crotch – hardly the appearance of an ideal America. I suppose that DrinkThe photo of is a parody. Intervene if you wish.

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