Classic paintings, cubed: Artist Adam Lister’s video game-inspired art history

The Mona Lisa’s expression has been subject to historic debate: How was da Vinci able to capture a look that alternates between serious and smiling with each glance?

In Virginia artist Adam Lister’s “Mona Lisa,” he presents that enigmatic smile as a single pink line, and it’s just as ambiguous. Lister reduces famous paintings to geometric abstractions inspired by cubism, minimalism, pixels and 8-bit video games.


"Mona Lisa," Fine Art Inkjet pigment print on archival paper (Based on Leonardo da Vinci’s painting) (Adam Lister)

“Having grown up playing Atari and Nintendo video games, this broken-down, angular method of processing and displaying information became an interesting guideline for me to translate and selectively restructure some of the most famous paintings in the world," Lister said in an e-mail. The acrylic paintings — available as limited-edition prints — are as playfully familiar as they are abstract.

See more of Lister’s work at his Web site, and scroll down for his abstractions, with links to their sources.


"American Gothic," Fine Art Inkjet pigment print on archival paper (Based on Grant Wood’s painting) (Adam Lister/Adam Lister Gallery)

"Girl with a Pearl Earring," Fine Art Inkjet pigment print on archival paper (Based on Johannes Vermeer’s painting) (Adam Lister/Adam Lister Gallery)

"The Son of Man," Fine Art Inkjet pigment print on archival paper (Based on Rene Magritte’s painting) (Adam Lister/Adam Lister Gallery)

"A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," Fine Art Inkjet pigment print on archival paper (Based on Georges Seurat’s painting) (Adam Lister/Adam Lister Gallery)
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.

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