American Gothic Analysis Essay

American Gothic Analysis Essay-7
His way was to work quietly, with guile and stealth.The dread may have been indefinable, but it is always there.You see it in Wood’s portrait of his mother, in what he described as her “bleak, faraway, timeless” eyes.

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Reviewing the show, the critic Hilton Kramer derided Wood as “a handy instrument for anyone wishing to turn back the cultural clock to the so-called good old days.”What a difference three decades make.

The current Whitney show is less about sunrise than twilight, or midnight.

It’s my personal favorite in the show, which includes generous samplings of Wood’s eclectic output of jewelry, metalwork, murals, stained glass, book covers and illustrations, drawings, furniture, and whimsical confections made of springs, gears, wire, and bottle caps.

Much like the recent Edvard Munch retrospective at the Met Breuer, this show makes the emphatic case that Wood was no one-hit wonder.

“The place had a largely rural feel,” I wrote, “a small town surrounded by carpets of cornfields and orchards, livestock, and silos.

Sometimes I would round a curve on a back road and have to stop the car because the landscape in front of me was so ridiculously gorgeous I could have sworn it had just finished posing for Grant Wood.” Three pages later I added a perception Wood might have appreciated: “I soon realized that through all this stay-at-home, God-fearing, heartland decency, there ran a streak of untamable bull-goose lunacy.” That lunacy led to some of the more spectacular stories I covered for the local paper, tales of arson, kidnapping, rape, murder, incest, the paranormal.

We learn that Wood spoke disparagingly about the “Babbitty” nature of the Midwest and the “gloomy inhibitions” of small-town life there.

Far from being an unschooled farmer-painter, he travelled repeatedly to Europe, studying Old Master paintings, mimicking the Impressionists, and leading a bohemian life that would have been unthinkable in the American heartland.

Grant Wood's popular and critical rise was phenomenal; his fall, mercifully after his death, was meteoric.

His early supporters cast him as the savior of American art, the man who would finally close the door against the strange cubist abstractions that were flooding from Paris into New York.


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