Conversations Around American Gothic

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Just the most celebrated and lampooned painting in American history comes to town for the first time—Grant Wood’s American Gothic, on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s been rendered, ripped off, and misunderstood from here to the cornfields, and long may it be so. Wood used his sister and his dentist as models, and their long-faced simplicity has been read as both a satire on Americana and a tribute to rural rectitude. American Gothic will be on display with another one of Wood’s mind-melding portraits, which clearly was satire, perhaps the only time Wood accepted the interpretation: After the Daughters of the American Revolution criticized a project he was working on, Wood responded with Daughters of Revolution, which no doubt twitted them further. Both paintings give us a chance to argue afresh about the simplicity of allegedly simple American ideals.

Through Nov 16. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Dr., Mt. Adams, (513) 721-2787, cincinnatiartmuseum.org

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