Do we See the Mona Lisa, or do we Look at her?

If you have visited the Louvre and got a chance to see the Mona Lisa, you probably are one of the many who were surprised how small she was and why was she steeling the show from all the other beautiful large pieces in the Louvre.

Why is the Mona Lisa popular? In short, she was one of the first art pieces to get global headlines in the early of the 20th century when she got stolen by an Italian Louvre staff member. Throughout the century, she was subject to vandalism multiple times, and like the Beatles, she traveled so many places.

To further clarify why the Mona Lisa is popular, I’ll leave her aside and will talk about Animation Production cels (celluloid), to make a point. I collect those cels from all around the world but specialize in classic Japanese anime cels. Most of the cels I have go back to the 60s, 70s, and 80s, some are American and most are Japanese. I organized several exhibitions across my region, and have always noticed how visitors of my exhibitions become most interested in those cels when stories about those cels are told instead of technical facts. I get a simple polite smile when I tell someone who, how and when was the cel produced, but I get a full group of wide-open eyes and attentive ears when telling a story: How I got this cel? How the previous collector got it? What did we the collectors do in order to preserve the colors and outlines? What happened to other cels that cease to exist today? Why is it hard to obtain cels from Disney or from other Japanese production houses and works? How can we tell whether a cel is original or not? etc…

In short, we love stories.
If a person doesn’t have an eye that appreciates a piece of art, there’s a higher chance this person has an ear that appreciates a good story that revolves around that piece of art.

In my first visit to the Louvre in 2005, I got a chance to see the Mona Lisa, and I remember spending way more time looking at Michaelangelo’s Rebellious Slave and the Nike of Samothrace than the time spent looking at the Mona Lisa. Back in 2005, I use to and still believe that she is the Celine Dion of paintings, I love her but hate to admit my love to her, maybe because she stands at the highest peaks of mainstream – excuse my possessiveness.

I already knew back then most of her history, and I chose to look at the Mona Lisa visitors rather than just see the Mona Lisa itself. I think I would do that again if I visit the Louvre today. Observe the mobile-social Mona Lisa visitors of today; Who are they? How do they look at her? Why do they visit her? What do they do when visiting her?

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer