Watch & Listen

Grant Wood: American Gothic

Why is Grant Wood’s work relevant today? Curator Barbara Haskell talks about his iconic work, American Gothic (1930), in the context of contemporary America. Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables reveals a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. The exhibition brings together the full range of his art, from his early Arts and Crafts decorative objects and Impressionist oils through his mature paintings, murals, and book illustrations. 

00:12 American Gothic is probably the most famous, celebrated American work of the twentieth Century.

00:18  It appears in countless parodies of individuals from across the political spectrum

00:24  Viewers will be totally surprised when they see the range of Grant Wood’s work.

00:29  I think this undercurrent of disquiet that really infuses the work, this kind of airless silence and frozen quality is very much part of contemporary life. His pictures speak to that sense of apprehension and isolation that we all feel as modern Americans.

00:49  We’re in an age right now where we’re also examining core national values, where there’s a division between rural and urban America, and Wood’s work represents that

00:58  There was something about American Gothic. It is an image of a kind of America that maybe never existed, but existed in the imagination of what it meant to be American