39 Comments

  1. It’s a party where everybody is a recognizable person from a famous work of art. That’s surreal and weird.

    It was certainly enough for me when I first saw it as a child and laughed my head off.

    If you want more its sort of the the ideal strange party a bohemian sandal wearing wearing hostess would host– she’s an artsy type so her guest would be artsy people and who could be more artsy than … art.

    But don’t overthink it.

  2. As far as the punchline is concerned: They are all famous, he is not. It would have worked as well if the party consisted of famous historical figures.

    Does anyone feel up to naming all of the characters?

  3. I have a not-so-great small photocopy of this I got in my art school days.

    Are we sure the new-comer guest wasn’t known in the art world himself (circa late-’70s)?

  4. The new comer looks like the farmer from American Gothic. The lady from the same painting is right center, looking at him. This is the party where they met.

  5. @ Usual John – Although the hostess presumes that her guest “knows everybody”, the comic still works for me, even though I can recognize only about half of the characters, and can’t even put a name on all of those. The “iconic” characters (Mona Lisa, Whistler’s Mother, Blue Boy, and the “Scream”) are enough to carry the rest.

  6. “The new comer looks like the farmer from American Gothic. The lady from the same painting is right center, looking at him. This is the party where they met.”

    Don’t most people know their sisters from childhood? I’ve never met anyone who met their sister from a party…. At least not for the first time.

  7. The couple in the Wood painting are supposed to be father and daughter. The models weren’t related.

  8. More accessible than another Addams of an old-fashioned newsstand with a crusty proprietor and nothing but magazines and papers that were no longer published.

  9. Brian in STL: Wood didn’t say what the relationship between the two characters in American Gothic was supposed to be. Most viewers assume they are either father and daughter or husband and younger wife. However, in light of the age difference, brother and sister is unlikely.

    At the time, it was common for rural people to pose in front of their home for a picture. They would wear their best clothes for the occasion. The farmer, however, is wearing his work clothes and a defiant expression. Meanwhile, whether wife or daughter, the woman is obviously thinking, “Is this old man going to keep me here forever?”

  10. MinorAnnoyance, that was one of the first Addams comic I ever saw, and one of my first CIDUs — but after it was explained to me, I really liked the creepiness of a newsstand selling only “dead” magazines.

  11. The nude lounging so nonchalantly could be an Ingres; the girl in front of her is the Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress by Velaquez.

  12. A post lost in the ether: The man to the right of The Scream[er] might be Velaquez’ Self Portrait, albeit poorly-drawn.

    The face behind Mona Lisa looks like something from the Mummy movie[s], altho I realize it isn’t.

  13. @ Usual John – Thanks for mentioning the indeterminancy of the relationship in “American Gothic“. Most of the references simply repeat the “Father/Daughter” assertion without substantiating from where it came, but I found a very likely explanation here, which said it came from Wood’s sister Nan, who may have been embarrassed to be shown as “married” to a man that much older (see the fifth paragraph in the Slate article).

  14. One of the advantages to being in the state of “no long a productive member of society” is the opportunity for research. Almost every discussion of the painting American Gothic refers to the couple as “father and daughter”. However, the truth is murkier. Some interviews had Wood referring to “the husband”. Apparently there was backlash at the age difference. Later some statements had him using terms like “father and daughter”. Some people question the accuracy of those and attribute them to his sister Nan (the model for the woman).

  15. Hmm…. is it just me but I can’t at all determine the ages in American Gothic and *don’t* think there is a notable age difference.

    Which is why I got the common mistaken correction to the perceived common mistake wrong. (Is it possible to get a mistake wrong? Especially if the mistake is a mistake in correcting something else?) I had heard the common correction “It’s *not* his wife like everyone thinks. It’s his daughter” and I got that confused because I didn’t see the age difference. Or maybe I heard the wrong mistaken correction rather than the correct mistaken correction and I *did* hear “sister”.

    I’m sorry I was mistaken about the mistake. I’ll try to make a concerted effort to make my mistakes correctly in the future.

  16. Just to add to the conversation, WikiPedia states: ‘Nan told people that her brother had envisioned the couple as father and daughter, not husband and wife, which Wood himself confirmed (“The prim lady with him is his grown-up daughter”) in his letter to a Mrs. Nellie Sudduth in 1941.’

  17. I thought maybe the topless woman was the Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies by Van Clomp. Guess not.

  18. Hmm…. is it just me but I can’t at all determine the ages in American Gothic and *don’t* think there is a notable age difference.

    There’s a 30 year difference in age between the models, and the painting is pretty faithful to their likeness other than Wood elongated their faces to a degree.

  19. Several sources that I read stated that Nan was the main proponent of the “daughter” interpretation and that Wood went along with it to please her. Some think that Wood intentionally kept it vague.

  20. CliosFanBoy: Looking at it again, I think you are right and this is not the Nude Maja. As you point out, this figure is wearing pants, while the Nude Maja lives up to her name and is completely nude. So now I don’t know who it is.

  21. To me, she looks like the Goya’s Nude Maja who decided at the last minute to put on some rolled-up jeans, thinking this was a more ‘formal’ party than she anticipated.

  22. beckoningchasm – the couple in American Gothic are father and daughter – so they should have met long before the party. Perhaps it is a surprise party that she is throwing for him?

  23. @ Meryl A. – That article is typical of many other sources; it simply states the “father+daughter” assertion, but doesn’t offer any supporting background about how this theory came to be the “accepted” view. As far as I can tell, all Wood was looking for was two long faces, he didn’t care who they were supposed to be, and just went along with his sister’s face-saving theory.

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