Mona Lisa

AuthorTopic: Mona Lisa
Electric Sheep One
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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.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:


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.

I myself know next to nothing about art but I do know the human have some of the most complex facial expressions dedicating more muscles to control those expressions then any other animal I know of. This doesn't included that we also give signals in the way we carry ourself. Based on what you just said, my guess is that most artists just can't copy this level of complexity.

[ Sunday, March 30, 2008 12:43: Message edited by: Safey ]

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Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
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I never given much thought to it, I'm just impressed by the background, as DaVinci gave the distant mountains a blue tint.

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Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Safey:

I myself know next to nothing about art but I do know the human have some of the most complex facial expressions dedicating more muscles to control those expressions then any other animal I know of. This doesn't included that we also give signals in the way we carry ourself. Based on what you just said, my guess is that most artists just can't copy this level of complexity.
I don't know much about art either. Though the more complex features in a person's face make things like nonverbal communication possible. Stuff like a certain look in someone's eyes and the barely-visible tension levels in the various facial muscles give telling signs of what the person might actually be thinking or feeling. It's definitely easier to detect than it is to mimic.

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