American Gothic is a 1930 painting by Grant Wood, a prominent artist in the Regionalism art movement. American Gothic is now part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and features a farmer standing beside his daughter, often mistakenly assumed to be his wife. The models for this painting were Wood’s sister, Nan, and his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby from Iowa. Wood was inspired to paint what is now known as the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, along with “the kind of people [he] fancied should live in that house”.
American Gothic draws inspiration from Grant Wood’s native Iowa state, as can be seen by looking closer at its oeuvre – portraits of locals from his native Iowa as well as self-portraits, landscapes, still lifes, murals and metalwork. The main subjects captured in American Gothic are a farmer and his spinster daughter appearing before their house, which is stylized using American gothic elements like gabled windows and tracery – thus raising up Woods’ name for this piece: American Gothic.
American Gothic is currently exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago where it has been since its commission in 1930. Prior to its place at Chicago’s art museum it was passed through ownership by people like Frances Larned Bdayle & Chester Beach were two purchasers until its acquisition by the society-prominent Potter Palmer family who owned it until 1926 when it was gifted to AIC (Art Institute Of Chicago). Because of its significance within history it has been held for over 90 years – serving as an icon for what is good about America and paying tribute to both fellow artists and Native Americans alike who long resided in Eldon (the original town where Woods painted American Gothic).