Over eight million people from all over the world flock to the Louvre every year for the opportunity to gaze upon Leonardo da Vinci’s beguiling Renaissance masterpiece, La Gioconda, more popularly known as “Mona Lisa.” For over 500 years, civilizations have exhaustively attempted to examine all facets of the famous artwork’s creation, influence, mythology, heritage, and mystique. But perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Mona Lisa’s enduring legacy is the frequency with which this painting has been reinterpreted, parodied, appropriated, and imitated by other artists. No painting in history has been reproduced as often as Mona Lisa, and yet never before has there been published collection such as MONA LISA REIMAGINED, a captivating anthology of hundreds of pieces of art that have been inspired by this priceless world treasure.
Erik Maell is an American artist and illustrator who works for such internationally prevalent companies as Lucasfilm, The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Topps Trading Card Company, and Victoria’s Secret Beauty Corporation. He began researching this book project approximately 4 years ago. Mr. Maell remembers vividly his first visit to the Louvre, and how the experience of seeing Mona Lisa was more akin to meeting a celebrity than looking at a piece of artwork. He observed that it was essentially impossible for anyone to view the painting on its own terms, filtered, without all of the baggage that accompanies it. Even if it were conceivable to somehow know nothing about the painting or its cultural and historical significance, simply being present in the museum and witnessing the frenzy surrounding the painting would be enough to distort one’s perspective. After all, there are no other paintings in the Louvre protected by dual panels of bulletproof glass and guarded on either side by security personnel.
Featuring both established and emerging artists from over 50 different countries, MONA LISA REIMAGINED is destined to become an essential addition to every bookshelf, coffee table, and library.
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Here are some of re-imagined “Mona Lisa” you can find in his book
Shortly after his trip to Paris, Mr. Maell began to explore theories as to why this painting had struck a nerve with so many people over the past half-century. He soon became aware of the unusually large number of artists who were compelled to recreate the painting in their own styles. Although many pieces of art have been reinterpreted or parodied by various artists over the years, no painting in history has come even remotely close to being “reimagined” as frequently as Mona Lisa. Just what exactly is the mysterious allure of this portrait that has inspired unparalleled levels of imitation? Though many explanations abound, there really can be no definitive answer, as the ambiguity of Mona Lisa is certainly one of the major factors of its indelible appeal. To try too hard to define its enigmatic charm is a bit futile, although admittedly it can be a lot of fun.
One of the greatest testaments to the overwhelming popularity of Mona Lisa is the vast number of books that have already been published, and continue to be published, with this iconic portrait as their subject. While there is apparently no limit to the amount of analysis that this painting inspires in writers, artists, poets, scholars, and scientists alike, there is an equally insatiable appetite for such publications from the book-buying public. Every year there are new books released, each attempting to define the painting’s mysterious seductiveness or explain its immeasurable appeal and why its idolization has continued to gain propulsion century after century. They have endlessly speculated over the true identity of the woman who posed for the painting (some even suggesting that Leonardo had actually based the portrait on himself while looking in a mirror). Cutting-edge forensic techniques have been utilized to meticulously examine the painting’s construction layer by layer. Countless theories exist as to what exactly were the various forces at work conspiring to elevate the painting to its unimaginable level of fame.
There is an unstoppable momentum to Mona Lisa’s adoration, and, as the myth of this painting continues to grow, its status as an artistic and cultural icon is unlikely to ever be eclipsed. During the past five centuries, literally tens of thousands of Mona Lisa variations have been created by both professionals and amateurs alike, and as civilizations continue to ponder that enigmatic smile, no doubt thousands more will follow.