Two White Mona Lisa | Andy Warhol

Two White Mona Lisa 1980 | Painting 39,7 x 26,3 Inch

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In 1978, after having painted numerous portraits of the rich and famous, Andy Warhol returned to a theme that he first tackled in 1963, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

Warhol often used the stars of the post-war period to embody the optimism of the American way of life; here, however, the painting's subject is the mythical figure of the Gioconda.

Two identical portraits are represented side by side, submerged under a thick layer of white paint, which is slightly grey in places. You have to look very closely to make out these figures, which are only just visible - they appear and disappear depending on the angle from which the work is viewed.

The ghostly presence of the Mona Lisa gives the painting a metaphysical aspect: her enigmatic smile, while in duplicate, is made more mysterious than ever by the white diversion, which both hides and reveals.

The Mona Lisa is a perfect image for Warhol: it is the most famous painting in the world, the ultimate icon, and immediately recognisable. By using it in his work, as he did with the celebrities of his generation, such as the "three graces" of the 1960s - Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Jackie Kennedy - he accentuates the femininity of the Mona Lisa as well as her fame.