Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables
Audio Guide Playlist

Barbara Haskell: The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover was a commission that Wood was given. There were some Republicans in Iowa. 

Narrator: Barbara Haskell.

Barbara Haskell: Herbert Hoover was in his third year of his presidency. They thought they would make a gift of a painting to him. Wood was chosen, the most important artist in Iowa, for this president who was born in Iowa.

He had been born in this very humble two-room cabin, and when he launched his campaign for the presidency, he did it in West Branch in front of the home that he had been born in. He made the statement that it represented the physical properties of the unbounded opportunities of American life. The cabin became almost a national shrine.

Narrator: Here, the modest cabin has been dwarfed by a building that had been built in front of it in the intervening years. It’s almost unnoticeable, though Wood does give us one winking direction by which to find it.

Barbara Haskell: He had a young man standing in the front yard, almost like a toy figure pointing to the cabin that had been Herbert Hoover's birthplace.

At the time, Wood gave the painting to these Republicans from Iowa who thought that they would gain Hoover's favor by giving him a present and they were so upset by the picture. It wasn't what they wanted. It didn't glorify Hoover's humble beginnings, and they rejected it. Sent it back to Wood.


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