Andrew Rowe Linda Curtis History 152 3 November 2010 American Gothic One of America’s best known paintings, American Gothic, was painted by Grant Wood, a painter best known for the traditional paintings of his home-state, Iowa. American Gothic was the result of a movement known as regionalism. Regionalism was a movement in a 1930s America that was a reaction and resistance to Europeans attempt to depict the American way of life. Painters, like Grant Woods’ used the rural Midwest as their subject. I believe that American Gothic has well represented this movement, and has lived on to be one of America’s most favorite paintings.
It is loved for the countless interpretations and its ability to stimulate people’s imaginations. I believe that the most plausible interpretation would be in reference to the Great Depression. The man’s immovable demeanor, the woman’s troubled expression, and along with their black clothing, leads to the interpretation that although their farm is failing, they will not leave, but are willing to face any ordeal that they may face. The scene is that of an older man firmly holding a pitchfork; he is wearing glasses and traditional 1930s farm clothes, overalls and a white shirt.
The black jacket that he is wearing over his farming attire is one aspect of the picture that stands out. To the man’s right is a middle-aged woman, she unlike the man is not looking at the viewer. Like the man, she is wearing traditional 1930’s attire, and her dress is black as well, with a simple pattern of white dots repeating on the dress. Directly behind the couple is a white house. The window that is in between their heads is gothic in style, unlike the other windows on the house. Over the man’s left shoulder is a red barn, amongst rounded green trees, against a clear blue sky.
The woman clearly has a look of worry on her face, perhaps even fear. She remains tight-lipped, standing firmly behind the man. The man’s posture is that of a statue, similar to the woman, he is tight-lipped and has a protective and proud stance about him. The picture is fairly detailed. For example the wrinkles in the man and woman’s face can be seen, and also the pattern on the woman’s dress is fairly intricate and detailed. Overall, the details and observations of American Gothic are typical of 1930s rural America. This portrait was painted in 1930, around the time of the Great Depression.
In the time of that time period, the make-up of the painting poinst towards the significant event of that time. During this time, many farmers were evicted from their farms, leaving them no choice but to move to the city to join the rest of the unemployed trying to find work. Farming had been in drought since the 1920s and the drought seen in the country left many farmers no choice but to uproot their families and leave. American Gothic can be interpreted as a man and woman facing the possibility of being forced from their land. Taking one glance from the man and it is obvious that he has no intentions of leaving his farm.
Behind him, the middle-aged woman looks to be not as confident as the man. She looks worried and is unfocused, for the fact she is not looking at the viewer, but off in the distance, hoping for a positive change to come. The man simply looks as though he refuses to leave. In conclusion, the man and woman’s demeanor and facial expressions show how they are standing strong against something threatening, and the untraditional black clothes reveal some sort of depressing circumstance. Whatever the circumstances of the painting, Grant Woods left it open for a wide-range of interpretations.