We know this sounds like heresy. It’s important to honor art history and the Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings the Western world has to offer. But isn’t it time for a little change?
First of all, standards of culture and art change constantly. That’s part of the reason why Medieval art often looks so strange and silly to us now. It isn’t just because it isn’t realistic or people were still working out things like proportion, it’s because that’s not how people are drawing and painting anymore as a whole. Once in a while it may come up as an aesthetic choice, but it’s far from the norm.
It’s sort of the same for Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting. It’s much better than its predecessors–the Renaissance was a huge step up from the art I just described–but the art style and the beauty standards the painting presents just aren’t in vogue any more. We’re not saying it’s not worth preserving, da Vinci’s work marks an important moment in art history, but things have changed. We have technology. We can manipulate how the living world convincingly. We have Jeff Goldblum, and we have Sam Neill as a willing participant in his greatness. It’s time for the Louvre to catch up to this and celebrate with one of the most beautiful examples of this ability.
But wait, you may say. What about that famous, mysterious smile that makes the subject of the Mona Lisa so compelling? Again, we’re not proposing we destroy her or anything. We’ll move her somewhere else, maybe give her a few years off, and you can Google the portrait and wonder about the mysteries while staring at your computer screen.
Anyways, this gif raises some questions too: is there a narrative to explain how Sam Neill get so small? Is Jeff Goldblum concerned? In quiet acceptance of the situation? Having a realization of love? Is Sam Neill’s grin a grin of love, or an understanding of ultimate security? We just don’t know. Is there a metaphor or allegory here? Ironically, Jeff Goldblum is laying in a similar manner to Adam in da Vinci’s Creation of Adam painting. And is the meaning of the gif completely divorced from its source material (Jurassic Park)? We simply don’t know what the creator of this particular gif wanted to say.
It would take a load off of the Louvre as well. Because of an incident in the fifties where acid was flung at her and several other incidents that involved items like flung coffee mugs, she’s behind a few layers of glass and visitors to the Louvre are not allowed to get too close to her. A still from this Jeff Goldblum gif, though? Oh no, ketchup. Oh no, acid. In a perfect world, nobody would be throwing these things at all. But all you need is a half hour with a really high quality printer and bam, you have a replacement for the old still.
This would also take the stress off of restoration. We all know that poor Mona has no eyebrows, but da Vinci didn’t actually intend that to be the case. A botched restoration or cleaning is usually blamed for the erasure of these fine details. Again, your Jeff Goldblum/Sam Neill still doesn’t need the specialized work that puts a ton of pressure on the restorer–you mess up a classic painting, you have messed up a mainstay of culture. That’s it, there’s no coming back from that. You mess up the still? Happens. Thank god we’ve got a JPEG on the main computer and this great printer, right? Heck, why would anyone even bother with a restoration attempt on the still? Save time, save money: just warm up that printer!
Giving the Mona Lisa a bit of time to relax in a controlled, protected environment would also help the congestion of the room she’s set up in. It’s borderline a mosh pit and really overwhelming. It’s rare to get a great look at the famed belladonna. Will people be that enthusiastic about Goldblum and Neill?
Well, the gif, and any subsequent stills to be made, would be beautiful. But we don’t think so. You see, the still doesn’t have five centuries of hype. And thanks to its durability and the ease it can be reproduced, a couple stills could be put up in the area the Mona Lisa would have formerly occupied. One copy has too many people around it? That’s okay, the one a few feet down the wall has an open spot, just move on down.
We don’t claim to be museum curators, but we’re sure that if the Mona Lisa could speak, she would be agreeing with us right now. She has had 500 years of people ogling her. She could use a break; we know we would appreciate one if we were in her frame. And we know that everyone, the world over, could use a piece of art up that reflects these modern times.