Death On The Ridge Road Analysis

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Just a year prior to painting American Gothic, Wood was witness to the crash of the stock market, marking the end of six years of enormous prosperity in the USA. The economy stalled and tension built up amongst the people. To broaden the scope, across the Atlantic ocean, fascism began gaining followers and taking power. As a result a political ideology was developed. More people felt the need to go back to older times, to a more primitive and rural kind of life. This return to a more familiar and reassuring time was in line with a feeling of distress and fear of globalization and industrialization. Internationalism had lost its appeal and it was now considered as something extremely dangerous: the root of all evil and the cause of European…show more content…
The rural landscape evokes the American Midwest. The geometry of the hills and road as well as the toy-like atmosphere and depiction of the cars entail a sense of irony that is often seen in Wood’s artwork. This irony is furthermore reinforced by the vivid color palette making allusion to a childlike drawing. Together with the curves of the road, the positioning of the cars and the telephone pole in the foreground, they come in contrast with the dark shadowing and the gray clouds approaching from the background. These elements manage to create a sense of urgency and motion. The title itself predicts the collision of the cars and the death that will follow. The clouds and vehicles carry an aspect of action while the contrast between the vivid bright colors with the dark shadowing that frames the landscape intensify the sense of drama. R. Tripp Evans published a controversial book on Grant Wood’s life titled “Grant Wood: A Life” in 2010. Evans’ main focus in this analytical biography is the gender-related meanings behind Wood’s paintings. Evans states that the curves of the hills in the painter’s landscapes resemble male buttocks and represent Wood’s homosexual nature. Not anyone seem to agree though and some have called Evans’ statements far-fetched. Either way there is a hint of criticism in Death on the Ridge Road that comes back to Regionalism and rural conservatism. The drama…show more content…
In The Birth of a National Icon: Grant Wood’s American Gothic, the author Wanda M. Corn asks whether or not the painter was “satirizing rural narrow-mindedness, as many critics and historians have claimed” (253). In her visual essay Corn lists a number of art historians that label Wood as a satirist and the painting itself satirical. However the belief that Grant Wood is indeed mocking Midwestern farmers and their agricultural roots contradicts his love for Regionalism and his flattering description of the Midwestern farmer in Revolt against the

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