Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things to see in the Louvre that are not the Mona Lisa

This image symbolizes my love-hate relationship with both the Louvre and the Mona Lisa.

There are a group of people who walk through the Louvre with set eyes. Looking for one thing alone. When they are not near it, they are desperate hunters.

When they find it, they are sheep in its presence. They are awed by the fame. The Louvre is especially good at creating fame. The Mona Lisa is only the greatest of their successes. There is also the winged statues of Babylon.  The Venus Di Milo. The self-portrait of Rembrandt. 

The fame is entirely artificial. In the mid 19th century, the Mona Lisa was valued at 90,000 francs. Other paintings in the Museum were valued at more than 600,000 francs. From December 1962 to March 1963, the Mona Lisa was lent to the United States, promoted as the most famous and expensive painting of all time. It was displayed only in New York and Washington. Great fanfare and press accompanied it. Since then, the Emperor's clothes have been largely  unchallenged.

It's a nice painting. It's a great painting. It probably attracts people to museums who would not otherwise attend them. I cannot fault it for this. I cannot even fault the Louvre for the artificial creation of the icon - but this is not the way I would choose that art would be, if I could choose. I would not choose certain paintings to be crowded upon, while others wait in wings, or in storage. There is so much else to see.

Even the other Da Vinci, which I prefer:

Is relatively unattended - and this Da Vinci, you can walk up to, and nearly touch with your nose. 

So, this should be the first of several posts relating to things I enjoyed in the Louvre, which are not the Mona Lisa.


  1. yeah... I'd honestly be much more interested in seeing the sculpture if I ever went there than the stupid mona lisa

  2. Which statue? I posted about a few that I think you'd like. The Victory at Samthrace is admittedly awesome. Seriously though, there's so much sculpture there. It's insane.

  3. yeah. those are all pretty awesome

    actually I think, to be honest, I just tend to appreciate sculpture more as a medium of artistic expression than I do painting. I think perhaps it is the almost idolic quality of it, as if the piece were imbued with some form of identity. I don't get that as much from paintings.