Grant Wood’s "American Gothic" Essay

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Grant Wood’s American Gothic is one of the most famous paintings in the history of American art. The painting brought Wood almost instant fame after being exhibited for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930. It is probably the most reproduced and parodied works of art, and has become a staple within American pop-culture. The portrait of what appears to be a couple, standing solemnly in front of their mid-western home seems to be a simplistic representation of rural America. As simple as it sounds, when looking deeper into this image, it reveals something much more complex. The first thing to notice about this painting is how incredibly involved and realistic the brushwork is. The couple’s faces are so delicately …show more content…
It is almost a reflection of the man’s trident. That same pitchfork shape also appears in the window of the house that sits in between both figure’s heads. Repetition can also be seen in the dotted pattern of the woman’s outfit, which also appears in the material of the curtain that hangs in the house’s window. The echo of verticals in this painting is also strong. The faces and bodies of the figures seem to be stretched, and narrowed. The pitchfork’s slender prongs and the green stripes on the man’s shirt also add to the elongation of their frame. The copious amounts of vertical wood boards that make up the house and the barn, keep the viewer’s eye moving up and down the picture plane. Wood’s use of verticality in this painting is overwhelming. There is also a striking luminosity to the painting. The man and the woman’s faces appear to slightly glow, as if you can really see the reflection of the sun beaming off of their skin. This was achieved by a complex method of applying glazes. Wood would apply a layer of oil paint, allow it to dry, and then varnish it. This tedious process would be repeated numerous times. It was a process perfected by the 16th century Venetian painter, Titian. The series of glazes seems to have created an overwhelming sense of depth and radiance within the paint. Wood’s use of glazes is not the only reference to early Italian painters. It is clear that Wood was inspired by Northern
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