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Are there contrasting elements such as color, shapes, forms, texture, direction, or...

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted June 24, 2012 at 12:37 AM via web

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Are there contrasting elements such as color, shapes, forms, texture, direction, or size regarding the painting American Gothic by Wood?

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted June 25, 2012 at 1:08 PM (Answer #1)

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This famous and much-loved (or at least much-discussed) painting does indeed contain many contrasting visual elements. These contrasting elements may in fact bolster many art scholars' claims that it's a very iconic painting. For example, the relative realism of scale of the house and the landscape stands in stark contrast to the somewhat exaggerated depiction of the two figures, especially their faces which are somewhat caricatured (which has led to a number of parodied images of the painting, one of the most recognized in the American oeuvre). The subdued colors, which one would normally associate with a realistic landscape or figure subject, contrast to the almost formal and somewhat artificial feel of the placement of the subjects, whose centering in the frame's foreground (making them loom very large in comparison to their homestead in the background) lends an odd feeling of perspective that is not quite "real." These contrasts are what give the painting a somewhat "surreal" quality, despite its very simple and "down to earth" subject matter. 

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