Mona Lisa (Pink), 2001
Spray-paint on canvas
75×75 cm (29 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches)
From a series, edition of up to 3
Stenciled-signed “BANKSY”, lower right
Mona Lisa combines all of the wit and power that one would expect from Banksy’s work but it also raises some unsettling questions about the nature of the art world. By using spray-paint and stencils to re-interpret one of the most technically accomplished images in the history of Western art, the artist explores issues of hierarchy and hegemony in the manner in which art is viewed and displayed. By reclaiming this image for a new generation and doing so with the tools of the street.
Banksy attempts to upset the old order and make traditional works meaningful in today’s world. Mona Lisa can be seen as a powerful example of his desire both to reclaim art on behalf of the street and to inject some much-needed humor and perspective into a jaded popular culture.
Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, Paris
Recalling famous appropriations of the Mona Lisa by Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol, the present work takes its place within Banksy’s satirical, subversive and darkly humorous pantheon of imagery.
Marcel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q
Banksy would return to the Mona Lisa throughout his practice, painting her in a variety of profane guises. In 2004, as part of a stunt, he hung one of his own versions of the painting in the Louvre Museum (home to the original work) replacing the subject’s face with a yellow smiley emoticon.
Banksy, Cut It Out, December 2004