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Reconstructing Mona Lisa

Ink transfer on handmade paper with chine-collé, 2014 Suzanne Coley
Time magazine lists the 1911 theft of Mona Lisa from the Louvre as one of the top crimes of the century.  Poet Guillaume Apollinaire was accused of stealing it, and police brought Pablo Picasso in for questioning.  Both were released and eventually exonerated. 

Scholars have written countless papers about the identity of the real Mona Lisa as well as the composition of the painting.  In 1956, someone threw acid on it and damaged it.  Later, someone threw a rock at it and chipped some paint off. 
Reconstructing Mona Lisa, handmade papers, 2014 
Through papermaking techniques I am reconstructing Mona Lisa because I, too, am intrigued by her history, the painting’s technical aspects, and the lore that surrounds it.

Incorporating the techniques of “sfumato” that Da Vinci used over 500 years ago allows for an interesting play with shadow and light when re-creating Mona Lisa’s form.  The hazy, dream like blacks and lower register greys, on handmade paper offer unique tones.  With these experiments I hope to better understand and control the placement of pigments on handmade papers’ often unpredictable nature.


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