The familiar image that most people interpret as a Farmer and his wife, holds the distinction of being the 'most parodied' painting in History. You've seen ads and cartoons poking fun at 'Whistler's Mother' or using 'The Mona Lisa' to make a point. Other paintings like 'The Scream', 'Nighthawks' and even 'The Last Supper' have had their share. But 'American Gothic' seems to have more examples by far than any of them.
was done in 1930 and according to the artist it depicts a depression era mid-west farmer and his spinster daughter. It is not, as first glance would suggest, a farmer and his wife, though many parodies rely on that interpretation. He holds a three pronged pitchfork, she wears a printed pinafore and a cameo around her neck. They are standing in front of a white farm house. The overly fancy upper window behind them marks the architectural style of the house as "American Gothic", hence the title of the painting. The pitchfork prongs are mirrored in the window and in the farmer's overalls. The pattern of the curtains inside the window are similar to the pattern on the woman's dress. Wood apparently liked the style he noticed on a house in Eldon Iowa so he painted it, then got his sister and his dentist to pose as a couple of people he thought might live in it. He submitted the finished product to a contest held by the Chicago Art Institute and won the bronze prize of $300. Not a lot of money considering the paintings worth today but it launched him from an artist with some local notoriety to one of international fame.