Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Subtitle: “The Biography of Grant Wood’s American Masterpiece”

Former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (1967-1977), Thomas Hoving walks the reader through a step-by-step analysis of the famous painting, teaching the reader techniques to use when viewing any painting. He also provides detail about the artist and how the masterpiece fits into Grant Wood’s career.

The book is easy to read, even if the reader is not familiar with the other paintings and artists (mostly European) the author uses for example and comparison. (I simply skimmed past the art I wasn’t familiar with.)

After reading the book I can see the optical illusion in the fork, the reflection of the fork in the overalls, the shadows indicating time of day, the elongated facial ovals and other vertical elements, the oversized hand and long thumb holding the inadequate fork, the lighting rod bulb replicated in the man’s shirt collar button, the ringlet of hair that escaped the tight hairstyle, the rickrack and calico of the woman’s dress, the lace curtains in the window, the common snake plant and begonias on the porch, the stylized background trees, the peaked roof that points to the man and woman, the value of repetition, and many other details I would have never seen. Most importantly I understand the need for the Gothic window and the staunch farmer and woman.

I have found it particularly interesting that Grant Wood felt he needed to copy the impressionists and to study in Europe, then realized he needed to paint what he already knew–the farm life of the Middle West, becoming a leader in the Regionalist movement. Which reminds me, there are even hints of movement in the painting.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to even the novice art observer wanting to better understand this masterpiece. This book was recommended by the staff at the American Gothic House that I wrote about earlier.

Be sure to read the endnotes. I read them after reading the rest of the book; the endnotes could be distracting if read while enjoying the book.


Hoving, Thomas. “American Gothic, The Biography of Grant Wood’s American Masterpiece.” New York: Chamberlain Bros., a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2005.

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Since its arrival in Indianola, the “God Bless America” statue has been the talk of the town. A friend told me that the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa, is worth a visit. So, Dave and I travelled there on Friday. We were impressed!

Today the house is owned by the State Historical Society of Iowa through donation from Carl E. Smith and is registered on the National Register of Historic Places (1974). It is amazing that Grant Wood selected that house, of all possible houses, for his famous painting. The Gothic window was the clincher.

The Visitor Center, run by the Wapello County Conservation Board, is small, relatively new, and packed with interesting information. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. The 25-minute film is a “must see.” The Visitor Center even has mock-up clothing so visitors can have their picture taken (with your own camera) in front of the house in vintage clothing.

Admission and photo session (with or without the vintage clothing) are FREE. The trip is worth it! Enjoy!

IMG_4199 - enhanced (best)

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Just in time for Independence Day celebrations!

What a privilege! This sculpture is almost literally in our backyard… only five blocks from our house.

Bill Friedricks with the Iowa History Center located on the Simpson College campus is responsible for raising the funds and making the arrangements for us to enjoy this piece of travelling art through at least December 31, 2013… the rest of this year!

This 2005 depiction of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” is 25 feet tall and weighs 30,000 pounds. Along with two granddaughters, I watched part of the day-long process of assembling the structure. We were amazed at how big it is and how it took cranes to move the pieces into place. For pictures of the installation process you can go to http://tinyurl.com/kj2f5ns. (It is a great set of photos. However, be forewarned, my computer locked up two times as I tried to view them.)

A traveling sculpture it has already been on Michigan Avenue in Chicago; in Mesa, Arizona; Indianapolis; and most recently in Dubuque, Iowa.

Some people think the suitcase is indicative of the travelling status of the sculpture; however, others think it points to American jobs being lost overseas. The stickers on the suitcase are from Taiwan, Shanghai, China, Bangladesh, India and Thailand. Whichever theory, we are pleased and proud to have it in Indianola!

Two of our granddaughters with the lady

Two of our granddaughters with the lady

Granddaughters with the man

Granddaughters with the man

Lowering the man's lower body into position

Lowering the man’s lower body into position

Showing the iron innards and the fiberglass exterior

Showing the iron innards and the fiberglass exterior

"God Bless America"

“God Bless America”

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