Lillian F. Schwartz

Lillian F. Schwartz (born 1927) is a 20th-century American artist considered a pioneer of computer-mediated art and one of the first artists notable for basing almost her entire oeuvre on computational media. Many of her ground-breaking projects were done in the 1960s and 1970s, well before the desktop computer revolution made computer hardware and software widely available to artists.

Schwartz used the works of Leonardo da Vinci extensively in experiments with computers. One notable work she created is Mona/Leo, for which she compared the image of a Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait with the Mona Lisa, matching the two faces feature by feature to show their underlying structural similarity.[5][6] Specifically, she replaced the right side of the Mona Lisa with the flipped left side of a red chalk self-portrait of Leonardo. Superimposed lines drawn on the image showing the close alignments of the bottom of the eye, eyebrow, nose and chin prompted her to argue that the Mona Lisa is in part a cryptic self-portrait of the artist. In further experiments along these lines, she removed the gray tones in Leonardo da Vinci‘s self-portrait and superimposed the Mona Lisa eye over it. Not everyone is convinced by her argument for the identity of Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa; one common counter-argument is that the similarities are due to both portraits having been created by the same person and therefore bearing the hallmarks of a characteristic style. Additionally, though the drawing on which Schwartz based the comparison is held to be a self-portrait, there is no firm historical evidence to support this theory.

Schwartz has been called a pioneer in „establishing computers as a valid and fruitful artistic medium“ by physicist and Nobel laureate Arno Penzias and a trailblazer and virtuoso by the philosopher-artist Timothy Binkley.[7] Her films have been included in the Venice Biennale and the Cannes Film Festival, among many others, and have received numerous awards. Among these is an Academy Award with Ed Emshwiller in 1980 for special effects on the film The Lathe of Heaven.[8] In the 1980s, a computer-generated TV spot that she created for the newly renovated Museum of Modern Art in New York won an Emmy Award.