Why we love it
This work is one of what Duchamp called readymades, where the artist uses worldly objects and transforms them.
In L.H.O.O.Q. the objet trouvé (“found object” outside of art) is a cheap postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to which Duchamp drew a mustache and beard in pencil and added a title.
Marcel Duchamp, considered the father of conceptual art, was controversial and transgressive, and his work had a great influence on the evolution of the Dada movement in the 20th century.
Here, Duchamp stole, appropriated an untouchable work, a work considered the best painting of all time, and created something new, against the art elites, wanting to communicate his concerns to the general public, with provocation as a way to attract attention and generate debate.
The title added more controversy: L.H.O.O.Q., with French meaning “Elle a chaud au cul”, “She has a hot ass.”
Today this gesture seems like a common joke, but in its time it was a great provocation, which became an icon and L.H.O.O.Q. remains the most famous parody of the Mona Lisa, and it made Duchamp universally known.
There are several versions of the work, including a Mona Lisa, without a mustache or goatee, which he named “L. H. O. O. Q. Shaved.” The discussion is served and there are opinions for everyone, is it a work of art or an aberration and lack of respect? Do you think it is to have a lot of cheek or that you have to put a nose to life?