Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Picasso Key Chains and Mona Lisa's Mustache

Marcel Duchamp
Have you seen the series "The Mona Lisa Curse" by Robert Hughes?  He makes some interesting points, but my favorite is his assertion that art is conceptually vulnerable.  In other words, it can be so viewed, in such a manner, as to loose significance.
Now, the artist in me disagrees with a most dramatic "NEVER! Authentic art has an internal incorruptible life!" The viewer in me though? She can't help scan her mental files of "Water Lilies" cutting boards,"Nighthawk" mouse pads, and "Starry Night" coffee mugs.
Of course, there are artists whose work focuses on that very discrepancy between a work of art itself, and its significance as a market or cultural object.  (Enter Warhol, et al.) But the point still remains that for everyone to have their Mona Lisa production must be increased.  In our age of mass production, it is difficult to appreciate a work of art simply for what it is in and of itself.
(Side note: Do you think this could be part of the contemporary appeal of street art, which is generally devoid of salable product and harder to repeat?)


  1. All I know is that I almost had a claustrophobic panic attack trying to view the Mona Lisa at the Louvre amidst the constant flashing of frantic tourists' cameras. Perhaps it was naive to think I could enjoy the original in peace, but I couldn't help thinking I'd rather gaze peacefully at her smile poorly imprinted on some coffee cup than contend with that frenzy. But that probably sounds awful.

  2. haha! So funny! I saw it on a Wednesday night, and no one was there, but I hear that it is always a mad house during the day!
    I think that is part of his point though. Even when we plan to go to a museum and really appreciate some celebrated work for its own sake, it's really difficult to see beyond its projected value as a REALLY BIG DEAL. Hence the trillion tourists snapping pics (not that I was any exception). The coffee mugs and key chains just add insult to injury :)

  3. I ended up taking photos of the crowd of gawkers instead of the painting itself...interesting thoughts, Nicole, of the non-commodification aspect of street art and grafitti. I think we've always art as a transformative experience of some kind, but duchamp and the conceptual turn in art signifies a post-literate (maybe a better term is "post-frame"?)culture we're entering.


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