In American Gothic, Grant Wood directly evoked images of an earlier generation by featuring a farmer and his daughter posed stiffly and dressed as if they were, as the artist put it, “tintypes from my old family album.” They stand outside of their home, built in an 1880s style known as Carpenter Gothic. Wood had seen a similar farmhouse during a visit to Eldon, Iowa.
When it was exhibited at the Art Institute in 1930, the painting became an instant sensation, its ambiguity prompting viewers to speculate about the figures and their story. Many understood the work to be a satirical comment on midwesterners out of step with a modernizing world. Yet Wood intended it to convey a positive image of rural American values, offering a vision of reassurance at the beginning of the Great Depression.
Signed and dated lower right on overalls: GRANT / WOOD / 1930
78 × 65.3 cm (30 3/4 × 25 3/4 in.)
Friends of American Art Collection
Extended information about this artwork
“Prize Awards in the Annual American Exhibition,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 24, no. 9 (Dec. 1930): 120.
Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 25, no. 2 (Feb. 1931): cover (ill.), 8, 25.
“Loans to Other Museums and Institutions,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago: Report for the Year 1931, 26 no. 2 (Feb. 1932): 70.
“Loans to Other Museums and Institutions,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago: Report for the Year 1933 28, no. 3 (Mar. 1934): 71, 73.
“Loans to Other Museums and Institutions,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago: Report for the Year 1934 29, no. 3 (Mar. 1935): 72.
“Loans to Other Museums and Institutions,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago: Report for the Year 1935 30, no. 3 (Mar. 1936): 68.
Frederick A. Sweet, “Half a Century of American Art,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 33, no. 6 (No 1939): 97.
Anita Brenner, “Is There An American Art?,” The New York Times Magazine (November 23, 1941), ill. p. 13.
Frederick S. Wight, Milestones of American Painting in Our Century, introduction by Lloyd Goodrich (Boston: The Institute of Contemporary Art with Chanticleer Press, New York, 1949), 30, 74, ill. pl. 21, 75.
Aline B. Louchheim, “A New Yorker Visits the Art Institute,” The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 46, no. 2 (Apr. 1, 1952): 23.
“People and Events: Portraits on Television,” The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 50, no. 2 (Apr. 1, 1956): 39.
Henri Dorra, The American Muse (Viking Press, 1961), 124, ill. p. 156.
“Summer Gallery Talks,” Calendar of the Art Institute of Chicago 65, no. 3 (May–Aug. 1971): 18.
“Lecturer’s Choice: Fifteen Minute Gallery Talks for Summer,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 67, no. 3 (May-June 1973): 11.
Matthew Baigell, The American Scene: American Painting of the 1930s (Praeger Publishers, 1974), 18, 109, 110, 111, ill. 1, 12.
“Public Lectures,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 69, no. 4 (Jul–Aug. 1975): 8.
“Public Lectures,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 73, no. 5/6 (Sep–Dec. 1979): 14.
Wanda Corn, “The painting that became a symbol of a nation’s spirit,” Smithsonian 11, 8 (November 1980), 84–96, ill. p. 85.
Wanda M. Corn, Grant Wood: The Regionalist Vision, exh. cat. (Minneapolis Institute of Arts/Yale University Press, 1982), 3, 25–26, 33, 35, 60, 128–142, pl. 32.
Wanda M. Corn, “The Birth of a National Icon: Grant Wood’s American Gothic,” The Art Institute of Chicago Centennial Lectures, Museum Studies 10 (Art Institute of Chicago/Contemporary Books, Inc., 1983), 253–275, fig. 1.
Davenport Museum of Art, IA, Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed (Davenport Museum of Art/Pomegranate Books, 1995), 24, 69–73, 96–98, cat. 16, pl. 16.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth–Century Painting and Sculpture, selected by James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein (Art Institute of Chicago, 1996), 67, ill.
James M. Dennis, Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 14, 19–20, 100–02, fig. 7.
Lea Rosson DeLong, Grant Wood’s Main Street: Art, Literature and the American Midwest, exh. cat. (Ames, Iowa: Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, 2004), 17–18, 24, 27–29, 39, 97, 104, 106, 159, 203, 205, 207, fig. 12.
Thomas Hoving, American Gothic: The Biography of Grant Wood’s American Masterpiece (Chamberlain Bros., 2005).
Stephen Biel, American Gothic: A Life of America’s Most Famous Painting (W.W. Norton & Co., 2005).
Sue Taylor, “Grant Wood’s Family Album,” American Art 19, 2 (Summer 2005): 48–67.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 79.
Laura Hoptman, “Wyeth: Christina’s World,” One on One (The Museum of Modern Art, 2012), 4 (ill.).
Chantal Georgel, “Millet,” (Citadelles et Mazenod, 2014), (ill.).
Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago: Highlights of the Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017), 123.
Judith A. Barter, “Prolog: Ein neue Welt der Kunst,” in Es war einmal in Amerika – 300 Jahre US-amerikanische Kunst [Once Upon a Time in America: Three Centuries of American Art], eds. Barbara Schaefer and Anita Hachmann (Cologne: Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud/Wienand Verlag, 2018), 24, fig. 10 (ill.).
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Mar. 31–Apr. 10, 1934.
Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1–Nov. 1, 1934, cat. 716.
Chicago, Lakeside Press Galleries, Loan Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings by Grant Wood, Feb–Mar. 1935, cat. 33, ill. p. 23.
New York, Ferargil Galleries, An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Grant Wood, Mar–Apr. 1935, cat. 15.
Kansas City, MO, William R. Nelson Gallery, Oct. 2–Nov. 8, 1935.
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, The Centennial Exposition, June 6–Nov. 29, 1936, cat. 15, ill. p. 64.
Chicago Woman’s Club, Jan. 20, 1937.
Bloomington, IL, Central Illinois Art Exposition, Mar. 19–Apr. 8, 1939, cat. 106, ill. p. 29.
Iowa City, Fine Arts Festival, Iowa Union Lounge, University of Iowa, Exhibition of Paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin D. Cone, July 16–23, 1939, cat. 23.
Art Institute of Chicago, Half a Century of American Art, Nov. 16, 1939–Jan. 7, 1940, cat. 178, pl. 46.
Bloomfield Hills, MI, Cranbrook Academy of Art, May 17–June 6, 1940.
Northampton, MA, Smith College Museum of Art, American Art: Aspects of American Painting, 1900–1940, June 12–22, 1940, cat. 33.
Worcester Art Museum, A Decade of American Painting 1930–1940, Feb. 18–Mar. 22, 1942, ill. p. 23.
Cedar Rapids Art Association, Grant Wood Memorial Exhibition, Sept. 1–Oct. 1, 1942, no cat. See Cedar Rapids Gazette, 9/6/1942.
Art Institute of Chicago, Memorial Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Grant Wood, included in the Fifty–third Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, Oct. 29–Dec. 12, 1942, cat. 2, color ill. frontispiece.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, 20th Century Portraits, Dec. 8, 1942–Jan. 24, 1943, p. 145, ill. p. 99.
Baltimore, MD, Feb. 12–Mar. 7, 1943.
Worcester Art Museum, Mar. 17–Apr. 19, 1943.
Boston, The Institute of Modern Art, Ten Americans, Oct. 20–Nov. 21, 1943, cat. 29, ill.
Saginaw, MI, Saginaw Museum of Art, An Exhibition of American Painting from Colonial Times until Today, Jan. 10–Feb. 15, 1948, cat. 71, pl. 13.
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Famous American Paintings, Oct. 9–31, 1948, n.pag., ill.
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Milestones of American Painting in Our Century, c. Jan. 2–c. Mar. 3, 1949, cat. 21.
Montreal, Canada, Mar. 18–Apr. 20, 1949.
Canadian National Exhibition Art Exhibit, Aug. 26–Sept. 10, 1949.
Dayton, OH, Dayton Art Institute, The Artist and His Family, Mar. 3–Apr. 1950, cat. 40.
Cedar Rapids, IA, Coe College, Centennial Exhibition, May 15–June 9, 1952, cat. 24.
New York, Wildenstein, Landmarks in American Art, 1670–1950, Feb. 26–Mar. 28, 1953, cat. 50, ill.
Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, 125 Years of American Art, Sept. 15–Oct. 11, 1953, cat. 59, ill. p. 18.
Dubuque, IA, Dubuque Art Association, Thirty Years of Grant Wood, Feb. 15–Feb. 23, 1955, cat. 9.
Des Moines, IA, Des Moines Art Center, Communicating Art from Midwest Collections: American and European Paintings and Sculpture, 1835–1955, Oct. 13–Nov. 6, 1955, cat. 20, ill.
Davenport, IA, Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, Grant Wood and the American Scene, Feb. 3–24, 1957, cat. 5, ill. p. 5.
Lake Forest, IL, Durand Art Institute, Lake Forest College, A Century Of American Painting: Masterpieces Loaned by The Art Institute of Chicago, June 10–16, 1957, cat. 24.
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Face of America: The History of Portraiture in the United States, Nov. 13, 1957–Jan. 26, 1958, cat. 92, fig. 41.
Washington, DC, Corcoran Gallery of Art, The American Muse: Parallel Trends in Literature and Art, Apr. 4–May 17, 1959, cat. 130.
Art Institute of Chicago, Art in Illinois, In Honor of the Illinois Sesquicentennial, June 15–Sept. 8, 1968, p. 10.
Art Institute of Chicago, 100 Artists, 100 Years: Alumni of the SAIC, Centennial Exhibition, Nov. 23, 1979–Jan. 20, 1980, cat. 112, ill. p. 35.
New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Grant Wood: The Regionalist Vision, June 16–Sept. 4, 1983, cat. 25, pl. 32; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Sept. 25, 1983–Jan. 1, 1984; Art Institute of Chicago, Jan. 21–Apr. 15, 1984; San Francisco, M. H. DeYoung Memorial Museum, May 12–Aug. 12, 1984.
Omaha, NE, Joslyn Art Museum, Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed, Dec. 10, 1995–Feb. 25, 1996, cat. 14, pl. 16; Davenport, IA, Davenport Museum of Art, Mar. 23–Sept. 8, 1996; Worcester, MA, Worcester Art Museum, Oct. 6–Dec. 31, 1996.
New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The American Century: Art and Culture, 1900–1950, Apr. 23–Aug. 22, 1999, cat. 435, color ill. p. 225.
Cedar Rapids, IA, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Grant Wood at 5 Turner Alley, Sept. 10–Dec. 4, 2005.
Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic, Mar. 10–June 11, 2006.
Des Moines Art Center, After Many Springs: Art in the Midwest in the 1930s, Jan. 30–Mar. 30, 2009.
Art Institute of Chicago, America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, June 5–Sept. 18, 2016; Paris, Musee de l’Orangerie, Oct. 15, 2016–Jan. 30, 2017; London, Royal Academy, Feb. 25–June 4, 2017, cat. 47.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables, Mar. 2-June 10, 2018, no cat no., pl. 33, checklist p. 259.
The artist; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago, November 1930.
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