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In art, inspiration refers to an uncontrollable burst of creativity that prompts a person to generate new ideas and make them a reality. Though inspiration is often seen as an unconscious person, it would be wrong to say that it is never triggered by external stimuli. Throughout centuries, artists built on artistic traditions established long before and used others’ creative pieces as an inspiration for their own. Today, many paintings, sculptures, and buildings incorporate elements from and contain references to different styles and movements. In this paper, I describe Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as a source of inspiration for my original work and explain the connection between the two.
Mona Lisa portrays Lisa del Giocondo, an Italian noblewoman and member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany. The viewer sees a young woman with an upright posture sitting in an armchair. Her arms are folded beneath her chest, her pose is quiet and reserved, and her facial expression is nearly unreadable: at first, it appears almost blank, but later it comes off as pensive and mysterious. Mona Lisa is gazing at the viewer with a slight smile that has become iconic and unreplicable in the centuries to come. The painting displays some of the defining characteristics of Renaissance art, such as showing a woman modest and demure just like the Virgin Mary, the contemporary ideal of womanhood (Kemp & Pallanti, 2017). Mona Lisa is outstanding due to Da Vinci’s revolutionary technique of painting air perspective that makes the painting come alive.
My Art Piece
My piece Instafamous done in charcoal pencil is inspired by Mona Lisa’s popularity that does not ebb. Paris’s Louvre is the most famous and popular museum in the world, visited by 102 million people each year (Willsher, 2019). Statistically, 80% of visitors at the Louvre are there to see Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (Willsher, 2019). They line up and wait for hours to see the masterpiece with their own eyes. I wanted to depict the Mona Lisa surrounded by visitors, each of them wanting to take the best picture for their Instagram feed. As seen in the drawing, most people see the painting only through their phone’s screen. To them, it is more important to create a memory and share it on social media than to be in the moment and “connect” with Mona Lisa.
In both Mona Lisa and Instafamous, Lisa del Gioconda is at the center of the composition. However, in Mona Lisa, it is Da Vinci’s gaze that determines how she is depicted and perceived, while in Instafamous, the woman is observed by hundreds of eyes. Besides, my original artwork shows Da Vinci’s painting in a modern setting and with modern artifacts, such as smartphones and selfie sticks. The two works are created using different media: Mona Lisa is an oil painting, and Instafamous is a charcoal pencil drawing. The different media dictate the basic elements of the art pieces. Mona Lisa is colorful, while Instafamous is black-and-white. The lines, shapes, and the use of space in Da Vinci’s work convey the atmosphere of peace and quietness. In contrast, my work is more of a quick sketch: it captures a moment in time and shows the crowdedness of the Louvre.
Kemp, M. & Pallanti, G. (2017). Mona Lisa: The people and the painting. Oxford University.
Willsher, K. (2019). Mona Lisa fans decry brief encounter with their idol in Paris. The Guardian, Web.