American Regionalism

In my previous post i was talking about Eamon de Valera’s fear of change in Ireland during the 1960’s. When i was studying abroad, i took a module American Art, which i have discussed some aspects here before, but i noticed that America went through a similar stage in the 1930’s around the time of the American Industrial revolution.

The country was not ready to meet the fast pace of city life and they clenched onto the past by depicting rural america in an idealised manner. This form of art became known as American Regionalism. The artists would create paintings in which rural america appear to be thriving. they illustrated manual labour, even though machinery was becoming increasing popular at the time, stability, the true american hard working families. They longed for the America before it became industrialised, before the big change of life in America.

The picture below is painted by one of the most famous regional painters, Grant Wood.

Grant Wood, American Gothic


Woods work was aimed to appreciate  America, and not countries in Europe. In this example we can see a man and wife standing outside their traditional american house, the pitch fork he is holding represents three things,  Unity with God and the holy spirit, it represents hand manual labour, and third, hell. The pitchfork can be in relation to the devils, the devil being the one taking people away from traditional american life.

Similar to the situation that occurred in Ireland just over  two decades previous. They wanted the ‘Traditional’ life to remain the same. Nostalgia shared by both countries.Its interesting to see Ireland was not the only country that went through a fear of change in traditional life.


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