Telling the Story of a Nation

The American Farmer

32-cent stamp stamp featuring american gothic
This stamp featuring "American Gothic" by Grant Wood was issued August 27, 1998.

American farmers have always been a crucial part of the American economy and identity. Their lifestyle and character have been captured in American art since the Revolutionary War period. One piece that depicts the farmer is “American Gothic” by Grant Wood. Known as one of the most iconic and recognizable images in the history of American art, the work displays a farmer and his daughter in front of a Gothic style home. The stamp featuring Wood’s art was released in 1998 as part of the Four Centuries of American Art Issue. The back of the stamp states: “American Gothic…has become the classic image of upright, American self reliance. Known as an example of regionalism, this work is a celebration of the national heartland and the agrarian life.”

32-cent Iowa 1846 stamp
The stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of Iowa's statehood was issued August 1, 1996. It features Grant Wood's "Young Corn," a painting showing the artist's regionalist style.

The art director responsible for the stamp’s design, Howard Paine, used “American Gothic” because of its time tested fame. He stated, “I feel its a ‘port of entry’ into the world of art by virtue of its wide popularity, its instant recognizability, so that someone with little interest in or knowledge of art would be willing to focus on the other stamps after seeing this one.” For the postage stamp, the top of the Gothic house in the background was cropped along with the father’s grip on his pitchfork.

Grant Wood, was born in Iowa and lived in the Midwest for his entire life. He was a supporter of the Regionalist Movement, a style of painting that focused on rural life and traditional American values.