American Gothic: A Life of American's Most Famous Painting Reprint Edition

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393328554
ISBN-10: 0393328554
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A slim but jam-packed record of critical reaction. (Matthew Price - Washington Post)

[Biel] writes with wit and broad knowledge. (Jeanine Basinger - New York Times)

About the Author

Steven Biel is the executive director of the Mahindra Humanities Center and a senior lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (June 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328554
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jane Harrison on March 9, 2007
I was excited to read this book because I have long considered American Gothic to be one of my favorite paintings. While there are other works that may stir me more emotionally, or I might find more artistically astounding, I like American Gothic because of its back-story and its humor. The figures seem so stern and judgmental, yet the models were just playing a role. Grant Wood had seen the American Gothic house in Iowa and tried to imagine what kind of people would live there.

In some ways it is less the painting itself, but rather all of the stories and history that surround the work that make it so interesting. This is the story that Steven Biel tells in his book. He starts with the house itself, and then explains the other ideas that influenced the work, the initial reception, subsequent interpretations, and the work's eventual status as an American icon. What is enjoyable about the book is that it provides lots of interesting factoids about the painting. What is disappointing is how little the book seemed to hold together as one narrative. With as much material as Biel had to work with, I didn't find American Gothic to be a particularly compelling read. It seemed short and disjointed, and was easy to put down. It was fun to find out so much about the painting, but in the end I found it unsatisfying.
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By Bill on April 16, 2015
Great read! Interesting story well told!
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American Gothic: A Life of American's Most Famous Painting
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