Gimp Masked Woman

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In September 2006, Banksy held an exhibition in Downtown Los Angeles dubbed a vandalized warehouse extravaganza”. The show featured several satirical renditions of paintings and sculptures by the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and Andy Warhol. His piece Gimp Masked Woman brings to mind the typical pose assumed by women in portraits done by Rafael in the early 16th century.

The masked womans baggy long sleeves and voluminous dress is very similar to Rafaels La Muta and his Portrait of Maddalena Doni. The repose is the same from the way the woman appears to gaze at the painter to the crossed hands on her lap. In Rafaels paintings, however, the shoulders are left bare while the masked womans are covered so even her chin does not show. What makes Banksys piece very striking is the black gimp mask his portrait wears.

Rafaels portraits are touted for the serenity they exude and the careful balance between the ornaments worn by the women painted and their clothes. Banksys version has a feeling of wrongness. It pictures the woman as one of with surprising contradictions instead of staid uniformity. It is as if he is showing what the person is like within instead of the way the person would like to be seen.

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