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Comment: book has a mark on the bottom page edge made with sharpie. interior is clean and free of writing or highlighting.
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American Gothic: The Biography of Grant Wood's American Masterpiece Paperback – June 28, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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About the Author

Thomas Hoving was the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1967 to 1977. During his tenure he doubled the size of museum. He is also recognized for introducing the now ubiquitous blockbuster museum exhibition, designing the record-breaking Tutankhamun show. Hoving is has written fifteen nonfiction and fiction books, including two national bestsellers, Tutankhamun: the Untold Story and Making the Mummies Dance.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Chamberlain Bros. (June 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596091487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596091481
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,731,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Neal A. Wellons on July 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is interesting but seems to have been rushed into print. Parts of the text seemed like a draft and one of the photos was printed reversed (Parson Weem's Fable.) The paper is very cheap with resulting muddy pictures. Hoving seems to have negative comments about most critics and art historians that he mentions while congratulating himself on his perception. I expected better; his King Tut book was fantastic.

I would recommend American Gothic by Stephen Biel as the first choice but at least this one is cheaper.
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Format: Paperback
I am in complete agreement with the one other customer review that has appeared to date for this book. The information offered is interesting. However, this book was cheaply produced and apparently rushed into print to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the creation of Grant Wood's masterpiece. The illustrations hardly merit the name, so murky they completely obscure the author's points. And there doesn't seem to have been even the most cursory edit. The frequent typos, grammatical errors, jumbled words are a major distraction. Quite honestly, someone of Thomas Hoving's stature should be embarassed to have his name attached to this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book first from the library to read more about
Grant Wood's process. There is a lot of bio material
here about Wood and it is interesting to learn all
the facets about this particular painting. A well written
and enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback
Note: slightly revised version originally written in 2005.

I had seen the pitchfork many times—it’s a major feature of the 1930 painting, American Gothic, the international icon by Iowa artist Grant Wood. But I had never really looked carefully at it. This all changed when Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, came to Iowa for a conference at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in 2005. Hoving had just published his book, American Gothic: The Biography of Grant Wood’s American Masterpiece. The book cover features a picture of the famous painting. Hoving writes of the pitchfork that the farmer is holding: “… the metal coupling in which the wooden handle sits is oddly insubstantial; one smack on the ground and the fork would be off its handle.” (p. 17) After I read this, I looked at the picture again, and the pitchfork looked fine to me. It looked just like the pitchforks I remember as a child. The long wooden handle of the pitchfork, polished by years of working hands sliding along its surfaces, ended in three sharp steel prongs, kept shiny by the constant pitching of hay. The proportions seemed right. The three prongs seemed well-fastened to the coupling, which in turn was connected to a metal tang or shank that ran down the outside of the wooden handle for a distance of five or six inches, serving to hold the prongs securely. This was an additional reason to believe that the pitchfork would not fall apart in normal use.

Hoving went on to write about an optical illusion. He said, “Look at the trident where it meets the coupling. It bows either in or out; is convex or concave; is going toward you or away from you. The center tine cants either right or left as you look …” (pp. 17-18) This especially stimulated my closer examination.
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