notes: The cover art chosen to illustrate
this "study page" demonstrates the variety of
contexts and uses to which the image of the Mona Lisa has
been applied. Note that the book covers selected
specifically omit examples in which the Mona Lisa has
been used on books about the Mona Lisa itself or about
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The Junior League of
Women of Great Taste,
Wichita, KS, 1995
Illus. Sonia Greteman
Gift of Christine L. Sundt
|In figure 39a The Mona Lisa is used to signify "a woman of great taste" a pun put into service for a cookbook, playing on the assumption that there is an association between great art and fine appreciation (i.e. "great taste"). In this case one naturally wonders whether the authors intended to refer to poor Charlie the Tuna's confusion between having good taste and tasting good. Never mind that cooking is no longer synonymous with "women's work."|
My Favorite Masterpieces
("Cards for Kids to color")
ŠPigment & Hue, Inc.
|Figure 39b has been discussed in the text of this paper (Text). It demonstrates one way by which the image of the Mona Lisa is instilled into young minds as a fundamental and representative example of important fine art.|
The Far Side Gallery 3,
Andrews and McMeel,
Kansas City 1988
|Gary Larson's cover (fig. 39c) from one of his "Far Side" collections, has also been discussed in the text of this paper. It is presented here to demonstrate that the configuration of the image of the Mona Lisa is so universal that book cover artists have no hesitation in using it in parody to communicate to a large audience.|
Art for Dummies,
Hungry Minds, Inc;September 1999
|The artwork advertising Thomas Hoving's guide to art history (fig. 39d) , strictly, is not a book cover; but, I've included it here because it serves as a surrogate book cover in its function to advertise a book that presents an art history crafted for a popular (and assumedly) hostile audience. It is written by a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) . The image of the Mona Lisa, no doubt was chosen here because it was thought able to convey a universally recognizable image to this proposed audience. Note how the illustration has been altered better to fit the publisher's color scheme. (The tear painted on the postcard advertisement was added manually as a comment by the person who sent me the image.) (See further.)|
Rick Steves & Gene
Openshaw. Mona Winks: Self-Guided Tours of
Europe's Top Museums,
John Muir, Santa Fe, 1998
Gift of Carl & Carol Selkin
|Mona Winks (fig 39e), a somewhat irreverent and populist guide to Europe's museums and art districts, takes as its cover a literary image the authors fashion for their description of the Mona Lisa. They say (p. 108) "Mona doesn't knock your socks off, but she winks at the patient viewer." By this they mean that if the viewer puts some work into the project of understanding this painting, the reward for doing so will be worthwhile. This is a fitting cover primarily because 1) the theme of the volume is just that: rewards will come to those who go to the effort to extend themselves, and 2) a winking Mona is enough of a curiosity to bring readers to its pages.|
as the Mona Lisa
.Front cover of
The New Yorker Magazine,
February 8, 1999.
New Yorker Woman of the
Year, art by Dean Roher. .
|The famous cover of New Yorker Magazine depicting Monica Lewinsky as the Mona Lisa (fig. 39f) has been discussed above. This clever and attractive image plays on multiple characteristics of its subject: Monica was known among friends as "Mona," The images of her in the popular press emphasized her mouth and smile (with appropriate innuendo), and in both Monica and Mona there flies the uncertainty of the nature of her relationship with a great celebrity. In most of the cover-art on this page, communication depends on the instant recognition of the underlying image as much as it does on the surprise encountered when the differences are noted.|
The Penguin Concise
Dictionary of Art History
Viking Pr; January 2000
Cover Art by Robert Silvers
|The cover of Nancy Frazier's Concise Dictionary of Art History (fig. 39f) is derived from one of Robert Silver's "photomosaic" images. (See http://www.photomosaic.com/p/puzzles/mona.htm.) Aptly, for this volume, the image of the Mona Lisa on the cover is built up from hundreds of separate images of works of art.|
The Public Domain: How to Find
& Use Copyright-Free Writings,
Music, Art & More.
NOLO Press, Berkeley, 2000
Gift of the Author
|This book cover for a guide to using the "public domain" contains a small image of the Mona Lisa to the left of the horizontal band of images at the cover's center. It is included in this collection because before all others, the image of the Mona Lisa is used to signify works of art that are no longer protected by copyright. The ubiquity of the Mona Lisa as a symbol of the "Public Domain" compares to the use of "John Doe" to stand for an unidentified person. (See further.)|
Mary Lynn Kotz
Art and Life
Harry N Abrams; May 1991
|This monograph on Robert Rauschenberg uses as its cover art one of the artist's appropriations of the Mona Lisa. Whether it is a classical work of fine art or an ordinary, everyday image, Rauschenberg reinterprets and injects a vital presence into what might otherwise have been taken for granted and overlooked. To select one of his Mona Lisa images for a book cover acknowledges both the traditional use of the Mona Lisa as a traditional centerpiece for artistic accomplishment and the primacy of Mona's image in daily life.|
"Virtual museum of digitized art
exists only inside a computer."
|The April 1995 issue of Scientific American highlights a number of articles about the use of computers to help understand works of art, including an article by Lillian Stewartz ("The Art Historian's Computer," p. 106) in which she argues that the Mona Lisa is a disguised self-portrait of Leonardo, himself (see here) and an article on the use of computers to aid the restoration of damaged and soiled works. The "Virtual museum" illustrated on the cover is not discussed, but it is interesting to note that the cover-artist paid no heed to a work's size, its relative scale within the "virtual" museum, or its stylistic grouping -- an inadvertent reminder of the ability of the computer to distort as well as convey the historical record.|
Mona Lisa's Moustache
Making sense of a disolving world
Cloth, ISBN 1-890482-90-0, 176 pages, $27.00
Published by Phanes Press
|12/01: Available from Amazon.com.
(From the book flap:)
"In the eighty years since Marcel Duchamp drew a moustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa, the dissolving of cultural forms has intensified to the point that there is no longer an absolute, a proper form, anywhere. This generalized breakdown is evident in social and moral codes, in gender distinctions and personal relationships, in politics and economics, in literature, music, dance, painting, and architecture, in our concepts of reality itself. "
RAB: By alluding to Duchamp's disfigurement of the Mona Lisa, this cover signifies the way our culture has transformed a venerable icon of the past into a symbol of modern society.
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