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American Gothic

American Gothic (1930) – Grant Wood

In August 1930, Grant Wood, an American painter with European training, was driven around Eldon, Iowa, by a young painter from the city, John Sharp. Looking for inspiration, Grant noticed the Dibble House, a small white house built in the Carpenter Gothic architectural style. He decided to paint it along with “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.”

Grant recruited his sister Nan to model the woman, dressing her in a colonial print apron mimicking 19th-century Americana. The man is modeled on his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nan, perhaps embarrassed about being depicted as the wife of a man twice her age, told people that her brother had envisioned the couple as father and daughter, rather than husband and wife, which Grant seems to confirm in his letter to a Mrs. Nellie Sudduth in 1941.

Nan Wood Graham and Dr. Byron McKeeby, models of American Gothic, at Art Institute of Chicago (1942)
American Gothic by Grant Wood at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois – Photo: Court House Lover
American Gothic (1942) – Gordon Parks
Dibble House (Eldon, Iowa)
God Bless America – 25 foot sculpture by Seward Johnson on exhibition in Anamosa, Iowa, the home of Grant Wood
American Gothic barn mural by Mark Benesh (Mount Vernon, Iowa)

The original house — with the two iconic Gothic windows — was built between 1881-82 by Catherine and Charles Dibble. According to American Gothic House Center, it is unknown why the Dibble family chose to include Gothic windows in the gables of their home.

“It is believed that the windows were purchased through the Sears and Roebuck catalog, but why they chose a window that is more associated with church architecture no one knows for sure. One thought is among the struggles of life and work, this was one way that the Dibbles were able to add a little beauty to their everyday lives.”

Anyway, the result is one of the most familiar images in 20th-century American art, and of course one of the widely parodied in American popular culture and beyond.

American Gotham – Vartan Garnikyan
The Faces of Quarantine: American GothicJarek Kubicki
American Gothic by John Hough (1988) Movie Poster
Art CoupleJisbar
Léon: The Professional/American Gothic – Steve Fagiano
American Hipster – RodDesigns
American GothicCovid Classics
American Gothic Bros.
American Marilyn (feat. Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn Manson)
American Gothic (feat. sweaters Tipsyelves) – Jason Robey
Gothic Fatal EncounterBarry Kite
LEGO American Gothic – Marco Sodano
American Gothic High – Steve Simpson
Scent of a Woman – John Potter
American Gothic Selfie – Bill Whitehead
American Gothic (Foreclosing Farms) – Khalil Bendib
American Gothic (feat. Beavis and Butt-Head)
Submerged Gothic – Scott Brundage
American Govhid – Noah Regan
American Gothic – Tyler Feder

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