Mona Lisa Bazooka
Location: Soho, London, England
In this mural, Banksy plays upon one of the world’s most famous paintings, The Mona Lisa painted c.1503-4 by Leonardo da Vinci. She has become a true icon of art history which has been the subject of numerous appropriations, but Banksy is the only artist who flanked her with a firearm… In this version, Mona Lisa wears a headset (the same as the monkey protagonist in Monkey Detonator), while aiming a rocket launcher in the artist’s typical black and white stencil style. The piece mural appeared in the Soho district of West London.
While Banksy‘s juxtaposition of art history’s most famous female with a powerful modern weapon may certainly be humorous and cheeky, there is more that can be read into the image. Banksy gives his Mona Lisa a powerful, calm and serene expression as in the original, however, juxtaposed with the threatening weapon, her welcoming smile reads as slightly menacing. It can also be read as a statement on how blasé citizens have become to the ongoing realities of war, always taking place somewhere far removed from their own tranquil lives, indifferent to some of the dire consequences including the death of innocent civilians.