The 4th of July is a time to celebrate America’s history and achievements, and one of the USA’s most iconic works of art is Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” a 1930 painting depicting a stern man holding a pitchfork standing alongside a woman in front of a farmhouse. Due to this fame, the piece has been appropriated, parodied, and re-imagined countless times for various purposes over the years, with Disney doing so on more than one occasion. At the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, for example, the artwork was recreated to topiary form with Mickey and Minnie Mouse filling in for the originals human figures. While Wood’s painting is well known for the dour expressions on its subject’s faces, the Mickey and Minnie topiaries retained their character’s typically friendly smiles.
Not only has it been adapted for use in Disney’s theme parks, but the company has also referenced “American Gothic” on the big screen in some of its most beloved animated features. A scene in “Mulan” cast the pair from the painting as two of the title character’s ancestors, one of which voices his concerns that Mulan’s decision to join the Chinese army disguised as a man could eventually mean the family could “loose the farm” as a result. Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts also briefly parody the poses from the famous work of art while standing outside the castle’s stable during the “Human Again” musical sequence added to “Beauty and the Beast” for the film’s 2002 Special Edition. While art historians continue to debate what Grant Wood was trying to say with his painting, “American Gothic” has remained an iconic image of Americana, just like the Mickey and Minnie.