Sunday, 18 March 2018


A retrospective of the work of the artist Grant Wood, who is now accorded iconic-status for his piece American Gothic, prompts a conversation with the exhibitions curators and a cultural historian whose undertaken an extensive study of the sociological milieu that informs both painting and audience and explores how public reception of Wood has transformed from a generally negative one interpreting Wood’s statement as one of disrespect and disdain for small-town America to something that represents the nation’s deepest-held values.
The motors of this change was both the artist being forced to defend his portrayals and character- isations and a paradigm shift experienced by civil society as a whole that saw honest and hard work arguably ennobled. The exchange, however, does not limit itself to this one portrait and looks across his entire visual repertoire to glean examples of the artist’s sense of irony and playfulness. The 1939 work pictured is called “Parson Weems’ Fable” and indulges some of America’s foundation myths—but so bizarrely, it’s rather beyond interpretation with the Gilbert Stuart version of Washington’s face superimposed on a young boy Invasion of the Body-Snatchers-style and could probably use some unpacking. The title refers to the book agent whom wrote the first unauthorized biography of the president just after his death in 1799 and famously embellished his life’s history with quite a few apocryphal anecdotes. Be sure to visit the link to the whole interview from Hyperallergic at the link up top to learn more.