Art Quiz: Can You Identify this Middle-American Masterpiece?

Here's looking at you!

By Google Arts & Culture

American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood (American, 1891-1942)The Art Institute of Chicago

One of the enduring emblems of Americana, and perhaps the most  famous painting of 20th century American art, this masterpiece might not be what you think it is.

Let's take a closer look at this work. We will find out more about what it really represents and see if you can name it. 

The picture features a couple of figures, painted in a highly realistic style. The man looks straight at the viewer, the woman slightly askance. It is generally assumed that the two are man and wife, but according to the artist they are actually father and daughter.

Their faces are expressionless and they are dressed in simple clothes, with the man wearing a dark jacket over some overalls. He holds a pitchfork to emphasize that they live a rural, hard working lifestyle.

It was assumed that this 1930 work was a critique of everyday small town or rural American life. Placing it in a similar bracket as literary works such as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and Sinclair Lewis's Main Street. This was a prevailing trend in the arts at the time. 

However, the artist refuted this assertion, grouping himself together with more earthy Mid-Western artists such as John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton. The image came to define the pioneering spirit of rural America during the Great Depression. But do you know its name?

Did you get it right?

It is, of course, American Gothic by Grant Wood, 1930.

Wood based the painting on a real house he knew in Eldon, Iowa. He said the two figures were "the kind of people I fancied should live in that house". The figures were actually modelled on his sister Nan Wood Graham and their dentist Dr. Byron McKeeby. 

The American Gothic House is still standing and the site of a center dedicated to the painting. 

American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood (American, 1891-1942)The Art Institute of Chicago

The painting can be seen in the The Art Institute of Chicago. You can try and find its exact location here.

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