28 May, 2014
WHY THE MONA LISA STANDS OUT | More Intelligent Life
WHY THE MONA LISA STANDS OUT | More Intelligent Life: The French public was electrified. The Italians hailed Peruggia as a patriot who wanted to return the painting home. Newspapers around the world repro�duced it, making it the first work of art to achieve global fame. From then on, the “Mona Lisa” came to represent Western culture itself. In 1919, when Marcel Duchamp wanted to perform a symbolic defacing of high art, he put a goatee on the “Mona Lisa”, which only reinforced its status in the popular mind as the epitome of great art (or as the critic Kenneth Clark later put it, “the supreme example of perfection”). Throughout the 20th century, musicians, advertisers and film-makers used the painting’s fame for their own purposes, while the painting, in Watts’s words, “used them back”. Peruggia failed to repatriate the “Mona Lisa”, but he succeeded in making it an icon.