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The Image of the Rural Pride as it Relates to the American Identity - Essay Example

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Running Head: ART HISTORY The Image 1 The Image of the Rural Pride as it Relates to the American Identity Name University Class The image of the rural pride as it relates to the American identity Introduction The most iconic imagery that has been repeated throughout the generations that concerns an image that reflects the American idealism that exists within the artistic work that has been done by American artists is that of the rural scene…
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The Image of the Rural Pride as it Relates to the American Identity
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The Image of the Rural Pride as it Relates to the American Identity

Download file to see previous pages... Land ownership shifted from the elite who held the yokes of servants in the feudal system to that of the common man who either staked his claim or was given land on which his pride and his sweat coaxed out a living. In using the imagery of farms and rural life to express idealism, artists have made a commentary on what it means to work the land and the identity that this image creates in relation to that of American life. As a consequence, those same images have been used to relate the disappointments and changing ideals that have grown. The concept of the rural landscape or representation is not always defined by the image of a happy or successful representation of American rural life. In Grant Wood’s work American Gothic, one interpretation is to see a savagery in the faces of the farmer and his wife, their lives so cruel and harsh that they live with that impressed upon their faces. Charles Demuth resented his surroundings so much that his artwork was representative of that same hard lined concept which produced the idea that rural life was unacceptably harsh. The Rural Aesthetic One of the most iconic pieces of art in the American portfolio is that of American Gothic by Grant Wood. The image of the harsh and sober farmer, his wife looking at him with the barest disdain combined with a hint of respect, suggests both a satirical look at rural life, contrasted with a respect for the stoic and harsh nature of such a life. Corn (1998) argues that the work is not based on satire, but on the way in which Wood was raised, his background informing the aesthetic that he has adopted. As well, Wood, according to Corn (1998), had an aesthetic that was reflected in hard lines. Through the examination of the Midwestern lifestyle, he associated the difficulty of rural work to that of the hard line. Corn (1998) quotes Garland who defines the concept of the Midwest through the representation provided through hard lined works, which gave them the aspects of being “rural, raw and tough – as hard ‘edged’ (p. 397). The work, American Gothic, is one of the most recognizable paintings done in the 20th century. It is often referred to as the “American Mona Lisa” because of its wide use in pop culture iconic works of advertising and social referencing, and because it is associated with American Art in a very central and meaningful way. Critics of the work often assign it to being either regional or satire, both which the artist believes diminishes his intentions with the work. Wood resented the idea that the painting represented specifically Iowa, the work having a more universal representation of the American farmer and not representative of Iowa. The criticism of satire also did not seem to fit the painting. According to Seery (2002), “the farther the critic lived from the Midwest, the more predisposed he or she was to read the painting as satire or social criticism” (p. 121). In fact, the painting was depicted as vicious by art historian Mathew Baigell who framed his interpretation as “a ‘vicious satire’ that depicts the couple as savage, exuding ‘a generalized, barely repressed animosity that borders on venom” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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