WendyCity Retro Weird Chicago: The Long Faces of American Gothic

1 Posted by - November 18, 2014 - Retro Weird Chicago

Artist Grant Wood was particularly inspired by a little white Iowa farmhouse built in the Carpenter Gothic style, with its single, central, oversized window.  “I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long to go with this American Gothic house,” he said.

Well, he found the right models for his 1930 painting, American Gothic: his sister Nan Wood Graham and his dentist Byron McKeeby.  With their “stretched out long” faces they posed separately for Wood.

Grant Wood attained instant fame when his painting was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago (where it resides permanently) and it went on to become one of the most recognized and iconic paintings in the world.

American Gothic was displayed in Cedar Rapids after Wood’s death in 1942 – in the city where he had painted it.  Nan Wood Graham and Dr. Byron McKeeby were united with each other and the painting for the first time, with their “stretched out long” faces as dour as ever.


And Nan posed with the painting again many years later.  With the very same demeanor.



P.S.: You can visit the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa.



  • American Gothic January 2, 2015 - 10:10 am Reply

    Great article! Really like that quote from Grant Wood!

    • Wendy January 2, 2015 - 11:01 am Reply

      Thank you, but I think your article is even better!

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