Monday, July 6, 2009

American Gothic

American Gothic, by Grant Wood, has always been one of my favorite paintings. Cliche I know, but I just love it. While in Chicago this past weekend I was able to see not only the original painting (1930) in the Chicago Institute of Art, but also a sister work of art from 2005 that mimics it nearby across from the famous Tribune Building.
I recently found out that the painting by Wood depicts a farmer and his DAUGHTER, not his wife like I always assumed, according to his sister Nan. He modeled the pair on his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby and sister; people he thought looked like occupants of such a house. The original building was in Eldon, Iowa and was painted from memory. The painting was submitted to the institute in a contest and won first place: $300 and a bronze medal. The museum purchased it shortly afterwards and it became one of the most widely published paintings of all history.
The nearby statue is of fiberglass and was created by J. Seward Johnson (the Johnson & Johnson heir). Measuring in at an impressive 25 feet high, the statue is called 'God Bless America'. Which do you prefer?

12 comments:

Paul Pincus said...

i prefer/love the painting!

Blue said...

I prefer the original - just don't see the point of the other but I've always found J. S. Johnson's stuff leaning heavily towards kitch so maybe I'm prejudiced.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

thanks for putting this marvellous iconic painting into context. A dentist eh? That makes me smile.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

VERY kitch, Blue -but on the magnificent mile in chicago, prime tourist land, it's very fitting! I'm sure most of the tourists visit the statue and not the real thing!

Hill Country House Girl said...

I love the original, and agree, the statue is kitch, yes, but also just plain fun - isn't it nice to appreciate both on different levels.

Style Redux 2 said...

Stefan-Is none of the above a choice? LOL

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Country girl, exactly right -I think on different levels hits the nail on the head :-)
Beth, thats always a choice, but then you're missing out!

home before dark said...

The painting of course. Cliche is always interesting to pursue. The sad remnant of an overexposed truth perhaps. I think the fiberglass work would have been more fitting if it had been one of those giant hellium baloony things. An amusing medium meets message and then some! Humor is always a good thing even if comes with a 25' pitchfork.

Renee Finberg said...

i am sorry............but,
this is too great ! i love it !!

please excuse me, i have to go...i am glued to the JACKO memorial. ha ha
xx

Eric H said...

The painting is a classic, but the statue is an awesome way to market both the painting and the whole Art Institute of Chicago. I think it's a fun homage and an excellent way to let the public know about the museum and decide to go see the classic themselves or if not it makes art accessible outside a museum with an $18 admission price.

Terry said...

Not original but it fits: American Gothic is one of those pieces that nearly every one gets the first time they see it. I don't have the slightest problem with the statue but we couldn't have the statue without the picture.

Natalie said...

I just read that the suitcase in the statue is supposed to represent the outsourcing of jobs from the american heartland. I never would have gotten that just having seen the statue but it is interesting.