Is the Mona Lisa a Great Work of Art?

Introduction to Mariko Art by John F Groom

Famously Famous

The Mona Lisa was painted 500 years ago, but it has only recently reached the apex of its fame. Up until the 20th century, and the various attacks on the painting, it was far from being the most famous painting in the world. There is absolutely nothing inherent in the painting; not subject, historical importance, technique, craftsmanship, or anything else that demands that you pay attention to the Mona Lisa. But everything external to the painting – creator, owners, history, attacks, location – has served as fuel for the fire of fame, until, emblematic of the modern age, it is most famous for being famous. 

Modern Art: Marketing Over Substance

If you understand the fame of the Mona Lisa, then you will understand much of modern art as well; it is the victory of marketing over substance. This is true not just of painting but of all the arts. And not just of arts and culture, but of most of modern life, of business and politics as well. The ever accelerating complexity of the world, and endless plethora of new products, artists and, well, everything, makes it so difficult to judge things independently, and so much easier to rely on renown as a criteria of what you should pay attention to. Independent thought and judgment becomes ever more difficult as the world becomes more complex and bewildering.

The Attitude Media Difference

But here at Attitude Media, we’re going to change all that, actually looking at art, and judging it, on its own merits. The first, and most important, step is to learn to look at art without prejudice. The venue at which you see it, or the price it sells for at auction, has nothing to do with the art being good, or bad. A famous piece may, like the Mona Lisa, be vastly overrated due to the accidents of history and fame. Or famous art may, like the Sistine Chapel, have every right to vast acclaim. In our judgement, one of the most interesting pieces of art in the world is on the first floor of a nice museum in Bangkok that is not too easy to get to. You haven’t seen it, and even most people who visit this museum don’t pay much attention to it. Because, y’know, it’s not famous. But it should be. Its called Three Worlds by the artist Veerachan Usahanun.

You must judge for yourself. This is true in every section of Attitude Media, which is about Taking Sides and Taking Action, but only after you have judged with your own mind. One of our most important tenets is that the experts are, as often as not, completely wrong. We go into considerable detail describing how, in the investment world, highly paid professional investors with every possible advantage usually cannot outperform the S&P 500 index. Doug Ell, in his book about science and religion, explains how many expert scientists ignore evidence when it does not fit into the existing scientific paradigm. You won’t be surprised to read in our Outrage section how Our Glorious Leaders are wrong again and again. If there is a single message of Attitude Media, it is think for yourself; you can even see this in the actions of the hero of our graphic novel, Favela, as he fights the establishment. The 100 people profiled in Tragedy to Triumph often had to overcome conventional wisdom in their careers. Our Success Stories are filled with examples of those who have made their careers by bucking conventional wisdom. Living Sanely in an Insane World is about pausing to stop and really think about every aspect of your life. Valuism, the core philosophy of Attitude Media, is about learning to make your own, independent value judgments.