Art event: "Mona Lisa Reimagined"

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

Few would argue that the "Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)" isn't the most famous painting in the world. Who isn't familiar with the portrait by Leonardo de Vinci? But it may surprise some to hear that the "Mona Lisa" is also the most duplicated, reproduced, reinterpreted painting in the world.

"There [have] been over 500 years of artists recreating the 'Mona Lisa.' All artwork is open to reinterpretation - 'American Gothic' and the Sistine Chapel ceiling are also popular - but you've got literally thousands and thousands of Mona Lisa images," said Erik Maell, author of "Mona Lisa Reimagined," a book containing hundreds of recreations of the painting. "I looked at over 20,000 images for this book. There's no other painting in history that comes close to that. There's really nothing else like that in any other genre. If I said, what the most famous movie of all time, it's debatable. The most famous song, car, city -everybody can have a different answer. That's not the case with the 'Mona Lisa.'"

Maell is an illustrator living in Cyprus and has long been fascinated by the phenomenon that surrounds the "Mona Lisa." He's studied countless interpretations of the portrait, from Lego "Mona Lisa" and abstract interpretations to one where she's flipping the bird and a rendering by Jean-Michael Basquiat. All of these varied images are in his 200-plus page book, complete with descriptions of the artists and their "Mona Lisa"-inspired work.

"What made me want to do the book - I don't even have an opinion about the painting - is just the phenomenon of what it is about this painting that has spoken to so many people in a strange way," Maell said. "One of the hardest things of having this one book on this one subject is running the risk of it becoming repetitive. So I had to find a way to get a compelling momentum from page to page. Each one has to offer something unique that you haven't seen yet."

Maell will have to book signings and discussion coming up for "Mona Lisa Reimagined." The first is July 30 at The Book Loft and the second is at Barnes & Noble Easton on Aug. 4.

"Mona Lisa Reimagined" Author Events

The Book Loft

6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 30

631 S. Third St., German Village

Barnes & Noble Easton

6-8 p.m. Aug. 4

4005 Townsfair Way, Easton