How great is the Mona Lisa? The atmospheric illusionism, the enigmatic guise, that captivating 1500s ‘no eyebrows or eyelashes’ look, it just has everything you could want from a work of art.
She has been top of her game for a long time. Too long, some are saying.
We could do with a replacement and personally, I think it’s standing in front of each and every one of us. I know, I know, this isn’t the first time a piece of work has been proclaimed ‘The Next Mona Lisa’. It’s the second time, actually. The first was in 1894 when three-time recipient of the ‘Denomination Aficionado’s ‘Name of the Week’ award Marcellus Cassius Coolidge unveiled this:
Does it get better than that? Nope. Unfortunately, some lucky so and so caught Dogs Playing Poker for a damn steal at $650,000 a couple years ago and it has since disappeared from public view.
But, after that bitter disappointment. I believe that I have uncovered the true second coming of The Mona Lisa. Her heir apparent:
THE TRIVAGO LADY!
She is everywhere and we have a lot of questions for her: Is your facial expression suggesting we visit Trivago or steer clear? I loved your work on How I Met Your Mother, do you have any fun stories from the set? Why are you following me? Why do I see you more than I see my family? Why do they use a picture of you instead of the destination you are advertising? Was that song that goes ‘Wherever you go, Whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you’ written by you? Did you enjoy Amsterdam? If you really are the new Mona Lisa, is this going to cause a commotion and will there be delays on the tube because of it?
They share mystery, they share intrigue, but what else do the Trivago Lady and Mrs M. Lisa have in common?
They both have inscrutable expressions that, even a good long look can’t decipher:
The Mona Lisa is the best known, most visited piece of art in the world. Or is it?
19,230 people visit the Mona Lisa every day. That’s more than the entire population of Truro. And I’ve been to Truro and it’s busier than you’d think. Well not busy but they get by.
5 million people see the Trivago Lady on the tube every day. And they don’t just see her once. They see her numerous times because Trivago were preemptive enough to make multiple renditions. Unlike notorious bad planner Da Vinci, who thought to paint just one Mona Lisa.
They’re both great but the numbers don’t lie. Anyone who’s still saying that the Mona Lisa is the big name on campus needs to wake up.
It’s like saying ‘80,000 people a week go and watch FC Barcelona, while 402 people go to see Truro City FC, although I think Truro are probably the better team’.
But, as damning as those statistics are, are they enough for us to start calling the Trivago Lady the New Mona Lisa?
Part of what attracts people to the Mona Lisa is the legends. Immediately after she was placed on public display in the Louvre (a popular museum for paintings abroad) in 1815, suitors would bring her flowers, poems, love letters, and everything in between. Even today, she receives so much correspondence that she has her own mailbox at the Louvre (see above for more info). Also, this is interesting: studies show that people who try it on with a painting don’t live near many women.
How does our humble piece of art live up to that? An inbox stocked with 300 years worth of propositions is a hard thing to compete with. We need to make something happen that’s going to make immediate waves in the art community and beyond.
I’ve got a plan and it’s going to solve all two of our problems at once: The ‘No one will acknowledge that Trivago Lady is art’ problem and the other one.
At the moment, the U.K has an image issue. We have alienated ourselves from the rest of the world. Great Britain is a strange place. Last year, when stood at the gates of heaven, a bus drove by with an advert on it that said ‘HELL MIGHT BE ALRIGHT’ and 52% of British people thought, ‘That bus might have a point, actually’. And every single one of the world’s other 194 countries were like: ‘Are you joking me?’. Choosing to go to hell is not good press. People struggle to relate to that.
What we need is some good publicity. Some good international publicity.
Back in the day, no one gave TWO HECKS about the Mona Lisa, but then suddenly, in 1911 she was kidnapped, and it caused a media sensation.
The press had a bloody field day, which, as we all know, is as good as it gets. Realistically, is there anything better than being in a field?
But more importantly, the world had questions: Where did the Mona Lisa get to? And who stole her?The police were baffled. They had no leads so enemies of traditional art suddenly became suspects.
Back in 1907, Pablo Picasso started knocking around with a couple of bad seeds. At the time, he was well into primitive Iberian stone models so one of his dodgy mates stole a couple of sculptures from the Louvre for him. Even though stealing 1,700-year old sculptures is frowned upon, it’s a thoughtful gesture at the end of the day. They were wrong ‘uns, but wrong ‘uns with a heart of gold.
So, even though he didn’t do any actual stealing, Picasso was tarnished with the same brush (eh?).
So all of a sudden, Picasso was a suspect and the theft of Mona Lisa was thrust even further into the limelight. He wasn’t charged but the case gained an unfathomable amount of exposure. The world’s eyes were on the story and Paris was a bloody hit.
You know what I’m getting at. We need to do the same thing. We stage a high-stakes artnapping of every single Trivago Lady picture. And then we accuse the world’s most famous artist of doing it: Banksy.
It sounds like a long shot but Banksy doing something like that isn’t out of the question. It would make some kind of point about mass-consumerism and anti-capitalism and he loves all that.
So, we stage it, but then we suggest that Banksy did it. Then he either ignores it, which always makes everyone look more guilty, or he has to make a statement denying it. Then suddenly, because Banksy is talking about it, everyone is talking about it. Those are the two ways this can go.
Or he admits it was him even though it was us, then I don’t really know what to do.
An art heist gets people talking. Everyone loves classy thievery. That’s a fact. Instantaneously, everyone is talking about the U.K, and not just because of inexplicable political decisions. They’re talking because something interesting happened. WHO’S WITH ME?