Britto’s “Mona Cat” tours with “The Nude Mona Lisa”
The exhibition Mona Lisa Unveiled makes its premier appearance in the United States following a successful presentation in Margherita di Savoia, Italy. As part of a recent collaboration between the Italian city in the heart of Puglia and the city of Miami, this event will open in Miami Dade College’s prestigious Freedom Tower and will feature various versions of the Mona Lisa from all over the world dating from the sixteenth-century to the present. The Miami exhibition coincides with the one-hundredth anniversary of the Mona Lisa’s legendary theft from the Louvre in Paris in August 1911.
At the center of this exhibition will be the newly rediscovered sixteenth-century painting of a nude Mona Lisa. This work is attributed to the school of Leonardo, and was possibly a collaborative effort between Leonardo and his favorite pupil, Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salai. There are clear links to Leonardo’s original iconic Mona Lisa and Da Vinci scholars say that this may well be a copy of an original nude version made by Leonardo, but now lost.
The public will also have the privilege to see yet another recently discovered version of the Mona Lisa. This one is clothed and has never been displayed. It was once considered to be by Bernardino Luini and only recently has it been attributed to an anonymous follower of Leonardo.
The exhibition will be on display at the Freedom Tower from August 25 – September 30, 2011 and is sponsored by the Honorable Gabriella Carlucci, Mayor of the city of Margherita di Savoia. The show is conceived and curated by Alessandro Vezzosi, Direcotor of the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci, and Agnese Sabato, President of the International Association Leonardo Da Vinci – Museo Ideale. It is coordinated by Gloria Porcella, Director of the Galleria Ca’ d’Oro in Rome and Miami, with the collaboration of Italian and American institutions, including the Armand Hammer Center of Leonardo Studies at the University of California in Los Angeles, directed by Carlo Pedretti.
The discovery of this nude version of Mona Lisa has heightened the mystery surrounding the world’s most famous portrait and the global phenomenon that it has generated. Although the historical and artistic values of the nude version are not known, the work has sparked debate as to why this painting has remained hidden. Leonardo’s iconographic invention created the standard for the Lombard and Flemish schools that influenced major artists including Raphael with his Fornarina. This version of the nude Mona might have been part of a series of erotic portraits by Da Vinci and his pupils, which were not shown widely because of censorship. Do we know if Leonardo drew her or a version of the Mona Lisa unclothed? Did he create, as often seen in his notebooks, a nude prototype, a cartoon, or simply sketch her unclothed as a study for the masterpiece? Was his sketch then finished by one of his pupils? In this case, would the finished version be known as a masterpiece or does it remain unidentified as in the Nude Gioconda in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or the Nude Gioconda in the McKenzie private collection or the Museo Ideale’s version on display in Miami in this very exhibition? It is an extraordinary and original work of art, which resembles – but not exactly – the Mona Lisa at the Louvre: her front facing gaze, the turn of her shoulders, the position of her hands, the spatial conception of the landscape, with columns at the sides; all show a clear link with the Mona Lisa’s iconographic theme.
The Mona Lisa is considered to be the portrayal of a courtesan or the symbolic representation of nature, fertility, the great mother, the sacred prostitute and the eternal feminine. This interpretation might instead refer to a memory of Leonardo’s in his Treatise on Painting:
…” It once happened that I made a picture representing a divine subject, and it was bought by a man who fell in love with her. He wished to remove the emblems of divinity in order to be able to kiss the picture without scruples. But finally conscience overcame his sighs and desire and he was obliged to remove the painting from his house.“
The exhibition is divided into two main sections: one concentrating on the history of the Mona Lisa as an artistic motif, with artwork and documents dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth-centuries; and the other offering a contemporary perspective on the work, opening with the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 and continuing with the Dadaist debunking by Marcel Duchamp, one of the most influential artists of the twentieth-century who, by adding a moustache and the inscription L.H.O.O.Q. to the illustrious portrait, anticipated future manipulations of the Gioconda icon including those by Dali and Leger. Also present will be Jean Margat’s Giocondologie, and the neo avant-garde, with works of living artists who generate their art in both traditional media and more modern forms, using computer technology, videos and installation pieces. The modern section will present the Visual DNA of the Mona Lisa by Franco Fossi, the Viewfinder installation of the Mona Lisa by Pierluigi Slis, the Enigma by Marco Nereo Rotelli, Mona Cat by Romero Britto, and A Reason to Smile by Seward Johnson.
The exhibition ends with Mundaneum Gioconda, a digital catalog from the Museo Ideale of Leonardo Da Vinci, which aims to collect and compare all the Mona Lisa and Gioconda versions in the world since its creation five centuries ago.
Click here for a RAI-1 broadcast of the even