Monday, January 14, 2013

Hall full of mirrors

The first time I was in the Louvre (about six years ago), we went to see the famous La Joconde, Mona Lisa, or whatever name you call her (or him?)
The Louvre is full of Clichés, by that I mean works that have so much cultural clutter it is hard to see them clearly, and this one is exceptionally hard.
In a lecture I heard about the Louvre by someone who works there, I learnt about 80% of the crowd at a given moment is in the halls of the Mona Lisa, and Venus du Milo.
Furthermore - you can't get near the painting (there is a guard), and it is covered with a double vitrine, so the only thing you get to see is its real size, which is no surprise as well, since you know Leonardo traveled with it all the time, so it couldn't be huge.
Still, being in the presence of the real thing (assuming this is not a copy, while the real one is deep in the safes of the Louvre) has its impact...

The stuff I am interested in is the process of visiting it, people (me included) came to see it so they can say they did (to themselves, to others), to mark a V on the must-sees.

Nowadays, this ritual is supported by the ever-accessible photography, and since the purpose of a photo is to mark the event, and not document the richness of the work (you can see the work in meticulous proximity on the web), a simple phone-camera may do the trick as well.

And since art is about reproduction of a reproduction, I was fascinated by the details of this process.

I've been doing some past-surfing lately, so I dag these from the archive, I hope you like them...

*Note - these photos are not the originals, but merely copies :)

And Mine:

And finally, the girl didn't have a camera (don't worry, she has one now...)

And just so you see the full picture: look here.


  1. I choose definitely last photo in every aspect of it.

  2. Oh, I like these. Very smart thoughts on visiting Mona Lisa too. I didn't know Leonardo traveled with the painting -- I was surprised by the small size when I saw it!

  3. Aga - I put the last one there to warm the post a bit, take a look at the link at the end as well, a great shot of the process.
    Laurence - merci :)
    Lisa - I put these after we talked about this occasion, I think often people who appear on TV get feedback when someone meets them in person - "you look taller on TV",
    Nowadays - everything (including size) is a statement, but back then, I think the size was normal,

    Just imagine being at that period, and meeting Leonardo at some dinner (since you are stinking-rich and noble, and some duke invited you to dinner, to brag about his genius war-machines-inventor guest), he could show you his painting (like you show your sketchbook to someone), you may spend perhaps five minutes looking at it, and would probably say "hey, this is really nice..." (to be polite), and two years later you couldn't recall what was in it, just that this crazy guy tried to create a machine that flies (ridiculous idea) and insisted on showing you some painting.


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