13. A Reason to Smile

Seward Johnson

A Reason to Smile, 2004 Ed. 1 AP bronze


Inspired by Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci


Take part in the mystery - who is Mona Lisa? An adventurous theory presented by sculptor Seward Johnson, is that da Vinci used his pupil as the model and exposes their masculine legs.



A Reason to Smile is from Johnson's Icons Revisited series of sculptures.


With Icons Revisited, sculptor Seward Johnson captures images that have held their impact over generations, becoming embedded in our collective subconscious. This series asks the viewer to consider why certain images stay with us, and how their meaning changes over time. As always, the artist encourages the dialogue that public art should inspire, inviting varied interpretations and opinions. He highlights moments of emotional intensity such as the Times Square embracing couple that came to symbolize the end of World War II. Forever Marilyn epitomizes fame. God Bless America, an homage to Grant Wood’s American Gothic, allows us to take a closer look at the couple, head to toe, well beyond Wood’s canvas. And his re-envisioning of the Mona Lisa brings forward many new perspectives.


“In this series, I am exploring what makes an image stick with us; become something more than its one moment in time. (With Forever Marilyn), there is something about her pose; the exuberance for life without inhibition, which is quintessentially American. It expresses an uninhibited sense of our own vibrancy.” – Seward Johnson

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