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In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

There’s a Crumbling Faux-Styrofoam Bust of the Mona Lisa at Sperone Westwater

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The first thing visitors to the current exhibitions at Sir Norman Foster’s jewel box Sperone Westwater gallery building encounter may be the funniest in Italian marble wizard Fabio Viale’s exhibition of recent sculptures. “Souvenir Gioconda” (2007), a meticulous white marble sculpture whose grainy surface is intended to evoke Styrofoam beads, portrays the bust of La Gioconda, or, allegedly, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, Lisa Gherardini, the ostensible subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic “Mona Lisa.”

In describing another work from Viale’s “Souvenir” series, a 2006 excerpt of a pietá of Christ performing an apparent feat of David Blaine-caliber levitation while the presence of the Virgin Mary holding him in the original Michelangelo sculpture is only signified by a tiny hand fragment under Jesus’s side, the exhibition press release explains, “Viale criticizes the commercialism of such symbols, the mass appeal and distribution of these figures as replicas, as ’souvenirs.’”

Viale’s exhibition, “Stargate,” will be on view through February 23.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo by the author.)

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