Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Widget HTML #1

14 Facts About American Gothic That Will Blow Your Mind

American Gothic is an artwork by Grant Wood in the art collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood called his creation the “Manichaean Culture”, and said that it was inspired by the people of America. According to Wood, “they had lived without restraint, they had lived without style, they had lived without ornament, they had died without despair”. This description seems very close to our modern perceptions of what an American Gothic actually looks like.

The work of Wood is still highly respected today. His work has been displayed across the United States, Europe, and Japan. The most famous American Gothic portrait is undoubtedly that of Marilyn Monroe. This famous portrait was done in Leaves, a suburb of Detroit. Leaves was completely depressed, with crumbling walls, and very little life. In fact, even the surrounding homes were neglected and old.

The subject of this famous painting, Marilyn Monroe, and the painting in Leaves have become associated with each other. When American Gothic was first introduced, many artists immediately identified with this style and its depiction of a grimy, decaying city. Some artists tried to justify their association of Marilyn Monroe with American Gothic by creating works that mimicked the setting of Leaves, such as paintings of the same subjects. As more work by this talented artist was made available to the public, more interpretations of American Gothic were created and popularized.

Richard Hamilton, a highly respected American Gothic artist, did much research on the life of Marilyn Monroe. He discovered that she had grown up in rural Ohio, and that her family had been poor. His portrait of Monroe shows her at an early age in a rural setting, as a young woman proud of her looks and her accomplishments. The phrase “Laughter is the best medicine” can be seen inscribed on the portrait, a play on the traditional notion that women should smile as a means of self-pox.

Although Marilyn Monroe is often represented as the epitome of American Gothic, this style of art actually originated in much of the Midwest, especially in the states of Iowa and Wisconsin. The most famous example of this is a painting entitled The Lovers, which was created by wealthy industrialist Andrew Wyeth in Depression-era America. In this painting, Marilyn Monroe appears in a great depression-style photograph, with her arms by her side as she reclines on a sofa, reclining with her legs crossed – a perfect portrayal of a person feeling sorry for herself, as rural america settles into the Great Depression.

Another painting in the category of American Gothic, this time of the late 1800s, is The Sacrifice, by one of the country's most renowned western artists, Mathew Brady. Like The Lovers, The Sacrifice was produced in a depressed atmosphere, typified by the Great Depression. Brady creates a foreboding atmosphere throughout the painting, his dark smoky brushwork creating a background for the heavily layered, foreword-like title that appears in a small print. His use of contrasting tones, like charcoal and black brush, create the appearance of smoke rising from within. This, similarly to The Lovers, is an image of escape through the darkness of despair, just as one might escape a coalmine, or escape the suffocating crush of an approaching train.

The title american gothic comes from an old saying originating in upstate New York: “If you find yourself in a small town in the country, look around at those people. They are laughing at the big city, they have it so good, why do they live in a small town?” This famous quote became the basis for the well known urban renewal imagery used to express the triumph of American capitalism over communism in Cold War posters, and later in graffiti across America. As such, the imagery of Bracknell, Connecticut, can be considered one of the first incarnations of the alt-weekly satire that characterized American gothic.

In terms of artistry, American Gothic remains a near-complete mystery. Although there is evidence that early artisans in the United States created gothic pieces of some sort, it is unknown if any of these artisans actually survived World War II, much less artisans who were forced into the labor army. One thing that is certain is that the gothic and punk subcultures of the 1950s and 1960s represent the intellectual fringe of a world that had been almost completely dismantled by the end of World War II. The goth aesthetic of America represents the remnants of what was left behind by that destruction, a culture revitalized by the ashes of a world war and the threat of another one. Today, this aesthetic blends with other cultural currents to produce something that is both unique and enduring.

American Gothic von Grant Wood (4): Bildanalyse – american gothic | american gothic