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Me, Mona, and Mao is an interactive installation of three works of art: Andy Warhol’s Mao, Aaron T Stephan’s Girl With a Pearl Earring—Tangled in Process, and a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. As part of Your Museum, Reimagined, it is designed to present the PMA collection in fresh ways to encourage discussion and new connections.
The juxtaposition of these works encourages visitors to think critically about the traditions of artistic copying and the celebrity of images. While each artist had different motivations, techniques, and ideas, the works share in a conversation about originality and the cultural power of iconic pictures. As we look at these works in the 21st-century museum setting, and in conversation with the current explosion of our visual culture, the installation also prompts us to consider how popular culture may influence our relationship to historic images—and what that means for our understanding of the past.
This installation about copies and appropriations is the strongest confirmation for the role of museums in our society as places where the original object has value and context—and places where we understand our present better through an exploration of the past.
Image Credit: Mona Lisa (16th-18th century), After Leonardo da Vinci, 27 1/4 x 21 3/8 inches, oil on canvas and panel. Gift of Henry H. Reichhold, 1982.187