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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Poor Mona

No woman should have to put up with such humiliation.

Unfunny, not to mention sexist.
Yesterday, in writing about Fernando Botero (the item directly below), I featured his version of Leonardo's Mona Lisa (1503-06). In doing so, I stumbled upon an incredible stash of satirical images of the great master's iconic beauty queen (along with Botero's). It wasn't that I was unaware of what other artists and, more recently, PhotoShoppers have done to the hapless Signora Giaconda; what struck me was the sheer number of such images, their viciousness, their crudity, and yes, their exceptional lack of humor. I'd be the first to admit there's nothing sacred about the Mona Lisa. I mean, it's a good, perhaps even a great painting, arguably one of Leonardo's best; but it's not the Virgin Mary (on the rocks or otherwise). Moreover, I've explored this realm of art humor before (03-25-13) so I'm familiar with the territory. I guess my real purpose in revisiting this topic is simply to say: "enough already." Give it a rest. Pick on somebody else for second thought, I'm not going to suggest any alternatives.
The first Mona Lisa satire?
Ripping off the Mona Lisa is nothing new. Art historians have recently speculated about a nude painting (right) probably done during Leonardo's own lifetime. The similarities to his Mona Lisa are remarkable, and the physical condition of the canvas itself within acceptable archival limits. It's not a Leonardo and probably not Mona, but was it done with her in mind? In modern times, Marcel Duchamp may have started it all in drawing a moustache on Mona's smiling face, (L.H.O.O.Q., 1919, 07-26-13) while Salvador Dali couldn't resist adding his hairy handlebars a generation later. That was parody, and personally, I have no problem with satirical art. Artists should indulge in such shenanigans. Otherwise art risks becoming stale, humorless, pompous, and proudly pretentious. Such creative endeavors may even have something important to say about who we are as a civilized society, opening our eyes, denying denial. And, I suppose, pummeling poor Mona under such circumstances serves some purpose. But familiarity breeds contempt. Too much of a questionably "good thing" quickly become a bad thing. Such art desecration, even when undeniably funny, even when cleverly conveying valid social comment, loses its impact when we become overwhelmed by its sheer quantity. The Mona Lisa becomes trite and so too, eventually, do attempts at satire.
Why? It's not satirical; it's not
the least bit funny. Just stupid.
I could post here a parade of examples featuring the funniest, or the best of the worst of such "non-art." But, in doing so, I'd only be propagating such travesties. Instead, I'm bringing to light the "worst of the worst," not to glorify but to outrage. This is how bad it's gotten. This is what a whole platoon of talentless non-artists have foisted upon the digital art world. This is what they have descended to. This is what we hate! This is what we're fighting! True artists of the world ARISE! UNITE! Write your Congressman!...or something...

Mona mangled, by Naoto Hattori
(yes, I'm naming names)

This has gone WAAAAY to far! Mona should sue--defamation of character.


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