5 Facts You Didn't Know About Grant Wood's "American Gothic"

You've seen "American Gothic" hundreds of times before, whether in its original form or incorporated into a number of parodies poking fun at the various themes of Americana. To many who view it, it reflects the roots of American industry and the humble beginnings of our modern times. However, there is plenty that most people DON'T know about the painting's story, and here are my five favorites. (Don't forget to impress your family and friends with your new and improved art trivia knowledge!) 1. The title "American Gothic" refers to the name of the architectural style of farm in the back of the painting. The 'Gothic Revival' style was prevalent throughout the 19th century, the supposed time setting of the painting. 2. The house is actually modeled after a real home in Eldon, Iowa, about a hundred miles away from Grand Wood's hometown of Cedar Rapids. Wood saw it when he was traveling through the city. The house still remains today. (Its address? 300 American Gothic Street.) 3. Despite popular belief, the man and woman in the painting aren't actually husband and wife. They are meant to represent a father and daughter, but are actually Wood's dentist and sister. (He originally wanted his mother to be the woman in the painting, but she fell ill.) 4. When the painting first debuted in Wood's home state of Iowa, many farmers criticized the man's pitchfork, as most pitchforks have four prongs and the pictured pitchfork only has three. 5. After finishing the painting, Wood entered it into an art competition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The judges did not take the painting very seriously, but Wood still managed to win the third place prize of $300. Eventually, however, he was able to convince the Art Institute of Chicago to purchase the painting, with the assistance of museum patrons, where the painting continues to hang to this day.

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