American Gothic Comes to The Cincinnati Art Museum



Grant Wood (1891–1942), Daughters of Revolution, 1932, oil on masonite, Cincinnati Art Museum, the Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial, 1959.46

Photo provided by The Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum will soon host two celebrated masterpieces of the 1930s. The exhibition "Conversations Around American Gothic," which will run from August 30 through November 16, highlights two of Grant Wood’s finest works, Daughters of Revolution and American Gothic. The latter is on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Conversations around American Gothic will feature several classic examples of American Regionalism, a 1930s artistic movement during which artists gained renown for their depictions of small town America in implied contrast to the feverish agitation and international preoccupations of the interwar period. Wood and his friend and fellow painter John Steuart Curry led a reinvention of American art by examining the quotidian details of Midwestern life, which seemed ingenuous compared to the goings-on of Paris. Rejecting abstraction and impressionism, the artists adopted a realist style to capture the idealized simplicity of their subjects.

Contemporary critics and patrons touted Curry’s works, including The Old Folks, Baptism in Kansas, and Tornado, for representing essential truths about the Midwestern experience. Wood was likewise adept at channeling these truths in his paintings, effectively depicting a lifestyle unaffected by nationalism and uninterested in frivolity.

The exhibition aims to stimulate conversation about stereotypes, world-views, shifting definitions of “realism,” and the deepening of distinctions in American life, as between urban and rural lifestyles or the sarcastic and the sincere. The exhibition will also engage visitors in discussions about why American Gothic, a painting of a steadfast and hardworking farm couple standing before a cottage, became one of the most widely recognized American paintings.

“This exhibition provides an incomparable opportunity to view American Gothic side by side with Daughters of Revolution, Baptism in Kansas, and other icons of the 1930s,” says Julie Aronson, curator of American Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings. “We believe the paintings will inspire reflection upon what it means to be American.”

 

The Cincinnati Art Museum is located at 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. You can reach them at 513.721.ARTS (2787) or visit their website at www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org.