The Mona Lisa, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Andrew Wyeth (Part 1)
Sometimes it is amusing to take a traditional piece of art and engage with it in a humorous or ironic way. Or, it can be valuable as an inspiration in order to study the skill of the original artist.
This is the first part of a two-part blog post based on the concept of starting with another artist's work as your jumping off point.
For example, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most viewed, studied, and most “adapted” pieces of art.
Mona Lisa, from the collection of the Louvre, Paris. B Leonardo da Vinci, 1503.
I created a digital spoof of the Mona Lisa just for fun. I inserted myself in the frame holding hands with the beguiling young woman. For extra flair, I added one of my floral paintings to her head as a hat. Completely goofy.
My spoof of the Mona Lisa holding hands with me and wearing one of my paintings for a hat. I seem concerned for some reason....
Marcel Duchamp created a multi-media piece of art starting with a popular post card of Mona Lisa. He added a mustache and goatee to the famous face (1919). It angered and offended Parisians as the painting is almost a "wonder of the world" in the Louvre. The painting became the property of the French people after the Revolution, 1787-99. The "defacement" by Duchamp was considered vulgar and an affront to France.
Marcel Duchamp's LHOOQ depiction of the Mona Lisa. as a "Readymade" as he called them, 1919. In the collection of the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA.
Duchamp was an early leader of the Dada art movement. Dadaism, as a principle, stood against the horrors and absurdity of war by creating images that were absurd, irrational, peculiar, and often composed of non-traditional materials. This was a backlash to WWI. Abstract Expressionism was a backlash to WWII.
Dadaism led to Surrealism and artists such as Salvador Dali. Dali turned the tables a bit on the Mona Lisa theme, and morphed himself into the Mona Lisa as a self-portrait. This actually w a bigger challenge than we might imagine since it was done photographically and at the time, we didn't have Photoshop or digital tools to manipulate a photographic print, negative or slide. In fact, the "digital age" started in the 1970s. And the digital camera, which creates a digital file of an image, rather than an impression of an image on film, did not exist until 1988.
Salvador Dali. Self Portrait as Mona Lisa, 1954.
Photographic elements by Philippe Halsman from: Marcel Duchamp
[the catalogue of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and the
Philadelphia Museum of Art] 1973, p. 195.
So, in 1954 when this image was created, I'm not sure how Dali and his photographic collaborator, Philippe Halsman, created this image. I am guessing it was done by manipulating several negatives, perhaps exposing them sequentially on a large-format negative to created a negative composed of several elements.
If there is a photographic historian or expert on this piece of art by Dali who can enlighten me, I'd appreciate an update. :-)
“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
– Salvador Dalí
Dali must have been one strange dude:
“The reason some portraits don’t look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.”
– Salvador Dalí
Then, not as a straight line, but as an evolution from Surrealism, some of the thinking and principles devolved into to Pop Art. Think of Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s soup cans. Maybe not coincidentally, he also went back to Mona Lisa for inspiration. He did serigraph prints of La Gioconda, as the painting is known in Italian. He included 30 images of Mona Lisa in the artwork, Thirty Are Better than One (1963).
So, you get the idea: Famous art is often cherished, mocked, reconfigured, and re-imagined through its history.
In my next post, I deep dive into this idea by focusing on Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth. I will explain my interpretation of his famous painting. Stay tuned!
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