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Western Animation / Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase

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Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase is a 1992 animated short film (seven minutes) directed by Joan C. Gratz.

It does not have a story, but is rather a seven-minute collage of art. The film consists of dozens of paintings, some well known to the layman (Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, of course, as well as Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe photographs) and some that are less well known. The pictures continually morph into each other, one after another, which is where the "animated" part of "animated short film" comes in.



  • Match Cut: The whole movie, except for a few cuts to black; most of the transitions involve one work of art morphing into a similar one Match Cut style. One amusing cut has a frontal portrait of a topless woman morph into Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream.
  • The Mermaid Problem: Solved by Rene Magritte when he made the human half of his mermaid the bottom half. See Our Mermaids Are Different below.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Not even a hint of a story.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: One of the paintings is Rene Magritte's Collective Invention, a somewhat unsettling work showing a mermaid that's fish on the top and woman on the bottom. The inverted mermaid is lying on its side on the beach, basically a beached fish with lady parts.
  • Shout-Out: The whole film is a shout out to artists and works of art. Leonardo, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, René Magritte, others.
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  • Silence Is Golden: No dialogue, but there is a music accompanying track.
  • Stop Motion: Done with a paint-clay-on-glass style that is something of a hybrid between 2-D animation and claymation.

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