Is any artwork truly original? The Gioconda Project thinks so





Originality is a funny old concept, isn't it? 

I was in Budapest at the weekend, wandering around the National Museum of Fine Art and taking in the old Hungarian masters. That's not a genre I previously sought out, but some really are stunning. Case in point:

Josef Bogdany

Walking from room to room, I noticed how each artist was inspired by the one before him. We tend to think art = creative = original, but art is also a response to inspiration; a response to something that already exists. So originality in art is a bit of a grey area.

Historically, artists have made a point to look at the same subject and demonstrate how each person can see it differently. There are endless examples, but Sherrie Levine's Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp) springs to mind. Below, you can see Levine's golden version next to a replica of the 'original'. Funnily enough, the whereabouts of the true 'original' Fountain are unknown. As is the case here, many artists revel in what might first appear as a lack of originality, but is in fact a display of how unique our perceptions can be.

Sherrie Levine, Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp); Marcel Duchamp, Fountain [replica]

That is certainly the case for the 181 contemporary artists from who have individually reinterpreted the Mona Lisa for The Gioconda Project. Their art will completely fill the W3 Gallery in Acton, London, from 25th February to 5th March. Through their creations, they are bringing contemporary art to everyone through the familiar vehicle of one of the most famous artworks in history. I hear there's going to be traditional painting, drawing, illustration, collage, mark making and digital art. Here are just some examples:

Maryam Charmchi, La Gioconda

Gabriel T Toro II, La Gioconda


Papierteufel, La Gioconda


It's easy to see an artist interpreting the work of another artist, and accuse them of laziness or for failing to seek inspiration. But seeing so many different approaches to the same piece highlights just how much of the artist goes into any and every artwork. Let me know if you're able to make it to W3 Gallery, and which pieces stand out to you.

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