American Gothic: A Life of America's Most Famous Painting
Ever since it met the public eye in 1930, the painting American Gothic has elicited admiration, disgust, reverence, and ridicule - and has been reproduced hundreds of thousands of times, in every medium.
Steven Biel explores the strangely enduring life of America's most popular painting. American Gothic has been interpreted as both a critique and a celebration of rural life, and it seems to speak so deeply to our ideas and feelings about American-ness that it is our most parodied work of art. Painted by a self-proclaimed "bohemian" who studied in Paris, the image was first seen as a critique of Midwestern Puritanism and what H.L. Mencken called "the booboisie." During the Depression, it came to represent endurance in hard times through the quintessential American values of thrift, work, and faith. Later, in television, advertising, politics, and popular culture, American Gothic evolved into parody - all the while remaining a lodestar by which one might measure closeness or distance from the American heartland.
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AIC-A Alfred Gescheidt Amer Ameri American Art American Gothic American Gothic House American painting apron Art Digest Art Institute authentic Benton bohemian Booster Bulliet Cedar Rapids Gazette Century of Progress clipping in microfilm clipping in NWG Corn Flakes critic Depression EBR-AAA Eldon exhibition faces farm front GILBERT SHELTON Gordon Parks Grant Wood Green Acres H. L. Mencken Heartland History Icon Institute of Chicago Iowa City Iowa farmers Irene Ryan John July Lewis Little Gallery Little Sister Nan live look magazine Main Street Marvin Cone mass culture McKeeby microfilm scrapbooks middlebrow modern Moines Register Museum Nan Wood Nan Wood Graham Nan's original painter painting American Gothic painting's parodies photograph picture pitchfork political popular pose Puritanism quoted reel regionalist reproduction rickrack Rowan satire Seery small-town Thiher tion town Turner Alley University Press VAGA viewers Whistler's Mother wife woman Wood's painting wrote York