By Isalyn Connell
I have not yet had the privilege of seeing the Mona Lisa on view at the Louvre. I have not gotten to be a part of the fleeting crowds that stand before da Vinci’s 2 by 3 foot original. I have, however, seen the Mona Lisa countless times away from its bullet proof glass protection in Paris. From textbook and periodical prints, to pop songs and mystery novels, Mona Lisa and her iconic, mysterious and angelic smile has spanned the centuries from the Italian Renaissance into our current cultural zeitgeist. She is known by art history buffs and preschool students alike.
It is no wonder, then, that even an upside-down and zoomed-in view of the Mona Lisa made up of 5184 spools of thread taking up an entire gallery wall was instantly recognizable to me from twenty feet away at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. This work, After the Mona Lisa 2 by Devorah Sperber includes a clear acrylic sphere perched atop a metal stand four feet in front of the spools such that the upside-down image made of up spools of thread can be seen right side up and in full view in the sphere.
Sperber’s After the Mona Lisa 2 joins the ranks of many artist appropriations of da Vinci’s work. Indeed, Andy Warhol printed the Mona Lisa alongside his pop art celebrity prints. Vik Muniz made peanut butter and jelly versions of the painting. Marcel Duchamp added a mustache atop her timeless smile. Similarly, Salvador Dali inserted his own face (curly-q mustache and all) onto Mona Lisa’s. No matter the medium, the Mona Lisa is a pillar of the art world. And if, like me, you have not yet been able to hop across the pond and see her in person, I’m sure you knew exactly who she was just glancing at the image in this post.
Photo courtesy Jessica Ruse