Cleaning Mona Lisa – iBook uncovers art’s dirtiest secret

Posted filed underArt History, Books, Digital Art.


Cleaning Mona Lisa not only teaches the neglected lessons of art restoration, but the app allows the reader to clean some of the most famous paintings from around the world with the swipe of a finger.

Art historian and former Travel Channel Host Lee Sandstead partnered with Apple Design Award winning app studio, Tapity, to release an innovative reading experience on the iPad. Built on top of Apple’s new iBooks Author platform, Cleaning Mona Lisa interweaves videos and gorgeous interactive paintings with the narrative to take readers on a journey to discover why classical art work such as Mona Lisa is not nearly as impressive as it used to be and what can be done to restore it. When art historian Lee Sandstead first saw the world’s most famous painting—Mona Lisa—he was…to put it very gently…underwhelmed. As he recalls: “I sat there looking at this very small and dark painting behind three inches of bullet-proof glass scratching my head in puzzlement. Where were her eyebrows? Why is she so yellow?” It was this utter disappointment that took him on a decade-long search through museums across the world to uncover Mona Lisa’s true meaning. It was through this long search that he uncovered the art world’s dirtiest secret: Mona Lisa needs a bath. “This might sound rather incredible,” says Sandstead, “but most classic paintings in a museum need some kind of conservation, such as replacing the varnish. And even more incredible, in all of my art history classes that I have ever taken, no professor had ever mentioned this very basic—yet crucial—fact.” And that is where this iBook comes in handy. Cleaning Mona Lisa not only teaches the neglected lessons of art restoration, but the allows the reader to clean some of the most famous paintings from around the world with the swipe of a finger. Asked if he’ll write another book, Sandstead replies: “The ability to create multi-media books that you can easily carry around with you on your iPhone or iPad is an unbelievable teaching resource, and I plan to spend a significant amount of time in this new media. Not only will I be offering exciting new content to Cleaning Mona Lisa, but I’ll also be creating new iBooks. For instance, this summer, I’ll be walking 1,100 miles through Europe along a medieval pilgrimage route to document ecclesiastical art and architecture; that’ll be a book. Then for Christmas 2012, I’ll be spending 30 back-to-back days in the Louvre—a month with Mona Lisa, if you will. That will also be an iBook.” Jeremy Olson, Founder of Tapity, adds, “Apple gave us the tools to make unprecedented reading experiences on the iPad and gives us a platform to distribute them directly, eliminating the need for a big publisher.” Why build an iBook instead of an app? Jeremy says: “Interactive books require a plethora of skills to get right but there is little coding involved, making the process far less expensive than building an app. It amazes me that most big publishers haven’t gotten on board the platform yet — this is the next generation of books.” Cleaning Mona Lisa, by Lee Sandstead, is available through the Apple iBookstore for $2.99. For more information, please visit: www.cleaningmonalisa.com