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Grant Wood's 1930 painting, American Gothic, is a subtly ironic variation of the popular theme of marriage. In fact, this irony is prevalent throughout the entire composition as what has been called a "prosaic couple" emerge as though immortalized out of wood themselves, much like the gothic house in the background, sturdy, provincial, and enduring through all adversities.
That the couple has become like the house and the tool is evident in their wooden expressions and fixed blank eyes and straight thin lips that imitate the windowpanes in the background. The shape of the pitchfork is repeated in the overalls and shirt of the man; the windowpane of the upstairs window also mimicks this shape, as well, as do the shapes of the man and woman's faces.
This monochromatic painting suggests the old tin-type photographs taken in the Early West with its repetitions of the browns and beiges. Throughout the painting, too, are vertical lines on the house and in the roof, in the man's clothing, his face and that of the woman and its miniature which is posed much the same as she. There is an endurance and sturdiness conveyed in the faces and in the house. Interestingly, there is no depth given to this painting.
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