In 1919, Duchamp performed a seemingly adolescent prank using a postcard that represented the ideal of feminine beauty, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. He drew a mustache and goatee on her face and added the letters "L.H.O.O.Q." The caption combines Duchamp's gleeful sense of wit with his love of wordplay: eliding the letters in French sounds like, "Elle a chaud au cul" ("There is fire down below"). The image trespasses traditional boundaries of appropriation by presenting a reproduction, however tarted up, as an original work of art. The masculinized female introduces the theme of gender reversal, which was popular with Duchamp, who adopted his own female pseudonym, Rrose Sélavy, pronouced "Eros, c'est la vie" ("Eros, that's life"). La Joconde instantly became his most famous readymade and a symbol for the international Dada movement, which rebelled against everything that art represented, particularly the appeal to tradition and beauty. The term "rectified and readymade" indicates that the artist has altered a found, mass-produced object.
- Artist Name: Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968)
- Title: L.H.O.O.Q. or La Joconde
- Date: 1964 (replica of 1919 original)
- Medium: Colored reproduction, heightened with pencil and white gouache
- Edition: Edition of 38 (35 numbered and 3 not numbered), No. 6 (Arturo Schwartz edition)
- Dimensions: comp: 10-1/4 x 7 in. (26.0 x 17.8 cm); sheet: 11-3/4 x 7-7/8 in. (29.8 x 20.0 cm)
- Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Virginia Dwan
- Accession Number: P.1969.094
- Copyright: © Association Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2017 Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Bergen, Phillip, Artweek, p. 10
Knight, Christopher, Los Angeles Times, p. 78
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