Some masterpieces, especially Renaissance ones, are so famous, so well known that they have become absolutely familiar. Botticelli’s Venus, Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa are icons of our time, real mass-media cult objects.
This was well understood by the great master of Pop Art, Andy Warhol, who adopted the Venus and the Mona Lisa as subjects for his works.
Pop Art had brought the art-advertising relationship to a level of contamination never reached before, creating “works of art” that looked like advertising posters, because they used the same language as advertising. It was fatal that the process also took place in the opposite direction.
After Warhol’s pop operation had come to desecrate, but without polemic or iconoclastic intentions, the mythicized images of famous Renaissance subjects, depriving them of their divine allure, the advertising graphics broke all delay: and it was thus that David and Mona Lisa they found, despite themselves, to be advertising testimonials for household appliances, foodstuffs, major clothing brands, mobile phones, airlines.
Unlike some movie and rock stars, in fact, the characters of works of art have the advantage of being recognized by all, of not getting old, and never going out of fashion. The results of certain advertising campaigns are sometimes explicitly hilarious but for this very effective.
Michelangelo’s David wearing a pair of short jeans is funny, even ridiculous, and therefore unforgettable. This also applies to Mona Lisa. The reuse of the iconic image of the Mona Lisa in an impertinent, ironic and even mocking key has become unstoppable.
Leonardo’s masterpiece, being the most famous in the world, is in fact by far the most cited or repurposed in advertising. Mona Lisa’s hair and smile have been featured in several advertisements. The poster for a well-known brand of mineral water is very famous, re-proposing the Mona Lisa with straight or curly hair.
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In other cases, Mona Lisa’s hair is ruffled by the wind, being she driving a sports car, or being moved by highly effective hair dryers, but it can also be the suction power of a vacuum cleaner to mess it up.
Aichner Clodi Agency, Austrian advertising campaign for the Miele vacuum cleaner, 2005.
Thanks to miraculous shampoos and conditioners, her hairstyle can become flowing and wavy. And what about a Mona Lisa with purple bob hair? Anyone, with the right product, can change their image, even timeless icons.
As if she were one of us, Mona Lisa loves to eat her favorite sandwich, drink coffee of a certain brand and experience the exciting effects, relax with a good cup of tea, or she can decide to give up her iconic fixity to take a break with the right chocolate bar that brings back the famous smile.
Like the stars of film and television, Mona Lisa can even lend itself to awareness campaigns. An unusual, completely bald Gioconda, like someone who is undergoing chemotherapy, smiles at us from her frame: “A tumor changes your life. Not its value. ” In this case, his image is hurt, just like the personal story of someone with cancer. But, having overcome the initial discomfort, one can reflect on the fact that this remains, however, Leonardo’s masterpiece. Regardless of the challenges that lie ahead, the value of life remains unchanged.