May 26, 2009 4:34pm CST
I'm no art maven. Maybe once or twice a year I go to a gallery or exhibition. I race blithely past everything that doesn't capture my interest. But I usually find a few things that do strike me, and I can happily spend long minutes staring at them. What impresses me most about an artwork is that I can't explain what impresses me about it. I once hit a short stretch of pieces like that in an exhibition of blown glass, and only after becoming fascinated by those few pieces in particular did I read the artist's name. Before then I had had no idea that Pablo Picasso had ever done glass. So I may not know art, but I'm convinced there really is something to be known. The week before last I saw the Mona Lisa — the original, in the Louvre. It's behind a thick slab of glass, and you have to stand a few meters away to view it. (Vandals have damaged it a couple of times over the last century, so this isn't curatorial paranoia.) Anyway, the original does seem to be more impressive than the reproductions I've seen many times, but in a curious way. I didn't find the famous smile particularly mysterious. She looks like a politely amused movie star who has graciously posed for a quick snapshot. She has an actress's calm stillness for the shot, but in a moment she will be getting on with her big league life. And that's what I found odd about the Mona Lisa, that its subject is simply sitting still and staring at the viewer, but looks so natural doing it. It made me feel something was missing in most other paintings, something I hadn't missed before. Those other painted people just don't look so real. Their artists have managed to paint the shape of a human being, but have fallen short of capturing some array of subtle cues that register a real person on our attention. Leonardo seems to have gotten this, at least for this one pose and in this one painting, five hundred years ago.
2 people like this
• United States
3 Jun 11
Hi. karpatzio. Welcome to myLot! I myself, love the actual painter that painted Mona Lisa's paintings. I love the original. It is more ancient and it tells so much about the picture itself. Duplicates only seem to make up for what the painting has lost.