19 Jul 2022


Art Analysis of "Maud Gatewood American"

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Academic level: College

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I attended the Bechtler Museum, Charlotte, NC. I viewed the Maud Gatewood American (1934-2004) which was painted by Maud Gatewood, known for her absolution paintings. The painting was made in absolution where the victims were made into a monument. Acrylic on canvas was used as the medium of making the painting. Maud Gatewood American measures 156.21 * 217.17 cm. The painting was finished in the year 1989. 

Maud Gatewood American art is organized in a way that represents what was happening in society. The focal point of the image is the American flag, which is at the background of the image, and it is painted with a bright color (The Hardy Art Department, 2012). The flag being a focal point indicates that the painting is expressing what is happening in American society. Closed space is used in the piece of art, and it is two-dimension. There are walls which are enclosing the space where people in the painting are held. Space is shallow as the distance between the floor, and the roofing is limited (Marder, 2019). Negativity is also seen in the space as images of naked men and women who appear to be engaging in sexual activities is seen. Balance is achieved with the people used appearing to have different skin colors, therefore a representation of various races. Harmony is seen with the mixture of men, women, and children in the image. 

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Maud Gatewood American demonstrates American culture. The piece of art can be used to show the American society, which is made up of different races as described by the varying skin colors as well as different hair colors. Immorality is highly seen in the image, with men and women sleeping together in the presence of a child. These people are not even covering themselves. The cultural history that can be seen from the piece is the acceptance of different colors, and that is why they interact freely without any race being segregation. It describes the immoral values that can be seen in the American society, which Maud Gatewood who used art to express immoral issues, especially in association with sex and AIDS (The Johnson Collection, 2019). 

Maud Gatewood American portrays a rotten society where men and women engage in sexual activities even in the presence of children. It appears to be a normal thing where different races in American society are represented in the immorality. Some people individuals appear to be asleep after they are done engaging in sexual activities. These people also appear to be intoxicated as they even sleep on top of each other without being disturbed. The concept of Maud Gatewood art can be seen in this art and the way she explained the American society during the AIDS crises with drug users, gay men, and people of color being affected most. 

The relation between form and content helps to describe the situation in the piece of art. The American flag presence portrays the issues of immorality being largely spread in America. It is a normal thing for groups such as gay men and drug users engaging in sexual activities in enclosed spaces. The drug users, for instance, after taking drugs, they become intimate with each other and even forget their responsibilities with children (Neofolio.net, (n.d.). The balance shows the embrace of different colors in America, and they are also involved in issues such as drug use and immorality. The presence of men, women, and a child is an indication that the issue of immorality affects all ages. 


Marder, L. (2019, May 24). 7 Principles of Art and Design. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from https://www.liveabout.com/principles-of-art-and-design-2578740 

Neofolio.net. (n.d.). Hidden in Plain Sight: The Patterns of Maud Gatewood’s Life and Art. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from http://artscribe.net/maud-gatewood/ 

The Hardy Art Department. (2012, March 25). The Formal Elements in Art. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from https://hardleyart.wordpress.com/the-formal-elements-in-art/ 

The Johnson Collection. (2019). Maud Gatewood. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from http://thejohnsoncollection.org/maud-gatewood/ 

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