This work has been authenticated by Mme Jacqueline Matisse Monnier and the Association Marcel Duchamp.
In 1964, Arturo Schwarz arranged to publish a brief though poetic essay on Duchamp by the French writer Pierre de Massot (1900-1969). For the planned publication of 35 copies, Duchamp was asked to provide a work that could be produced in a small edition. He decided to re-present the now-famous pun he had inscribed on a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa 45 years earlier. For this edition, he purchased 38 color reproductions of the painting (allowing for 3 examples outside the edition: one for Schwarz, one for Massot, and one for himself). In pencil, he drew a mustache and goatee on the face of La Joconde, adding the five capital letters in a margin below the image to provide the phonetic pun, which, when read aloud in French reads as "Elle a chaud au cul," which translates as "She has a hot ass," or as Duchamp himself once more delicately translated it: "There is fire down below" (Interview with Hubert Crehan for WBAJ-FM Radio, New York, published in Evidence, no. 3, Toronto, Fall 1961, pp. 36-38).
The L.H.O.O.Q. has been discussed extensively in the literature on Duchamp. It has been interpreted as a work that relates to Duchamp's female alter ego, Rrose Sélavy, as well as to the homosexuality of Leonardo da Vinci, a fact that was popularized through the publication of a famous essay by Sigmund Freud. No matter how this work is interpreted, there can be no question that Duchamp's desecration of a revered Renaissance masterpiece is considered the most succinct expression of Dada negation, an ultimate gesture of iconoclasm, a work of art that symbolically yet effectively terminates the modern era's attachment to the conservative aesthetics of the past (For a summation of these theories, see the entry on this work in F. M. Naumann, The Mary and William Sisler Collection, exh. cat., New York, 1984, pp. 188-91).
When Duchamp prepared the numbered edition in 1964, he used a brush to apply a thin layer of white gouache over Leonardo's name and the name of the institution where the famous picture resides (the Louvre). Duchamp was not only trying to avoid issues of copyright, but he wanted to make it clear that his L.H.O.O.Q. was an independent work of art in its own right, and should not be confused with the work from which it was so freely appropriated.