In 1919 Marcel Duchamp draws a mustache and a goatee beard on a picture of Mona Lisa in postcard format. This irreverent act is very well targeted. The title L.H.O.O.Q. is both a homophone of Look in the meaning of voyeurism when reading the word and of the titillating Elle a chaud au cul when spelling the letters, as a great example of a successful bilingual pun.
Art allows any audacity. L.H.O.O.Q. is also a symbol of the mingling of genders. In 1910 Sigmund Freud had managed to observe in the ambiguous face of this woman a proof of Leonardo's homosexuality. The feminization of Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy in 1920 is an interesting continuation of that debate.
L.H.O.O.Q.. accompanies Duchamp's reputation as an innovator throughout his short career as a creative artist and his long retirement devoted to chess. Replicas and imitations are numerous.
In 1964 a friend of Duchamp prepares a monograph to be published in 35 copies. He invites the artist to insert an artwork therein. Duchamp buys 38 identical lithographs 30 x 23 cm. On each of them he reworks the face in pencil and erases in white gouache the reference to Leonardo and to the Louvre while maintaining the original title La Joconde. He adds L.H.O.O.Q. as the subtitle, signs and numbers all copies.
One of these recuperation prints was sold for $ 1.2M including premium by Christie's on May 8, 2016 over a lower estimate of $ 400K. Another copy is estimated € 400K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on October 21, lot 105.
SOLD for € 630K including premium