Sometimes it takes a second, third, or even fifteenth look to really get something, but really, there’s no greater feeling than when everything clicks.
Let’s talk classic art for a second. We’ve all see the Mona Lisa, it’s the “painting to end all paintings” when we talk about art. And I, like I assume so many others, never really “got it” as this magnificent painting. I even wrote a whole article on why we should care about it, but I still wasn’t convinced.
So what, after years of staring at this portrait finally convinced me to take a second look? What if I were to tell you that the Mona Lisa isn’t just a good painting, but actually an optical illusion of sorts?
Leonardo da Vinci’s artistry isn’t just in his brush strokes. No, his deeper mastery is in how he was able to harness the quirks of human perception and work them into his paintings.
How did he do this? What tricks is he playing on us? Why do we keep hearing about “Mona Lisa’s Smile?” This super cool piece from The Atlantic explains it all.
Now, go ahead and look at the Mona Lisa and try out that experiment from the video. Let your gaze wander from the painting and then back to her lips. Do you see her mouth move?
I actually studied art history in undergrad, but even with all of my focus on what makes great art, the Mona Lisa had never struck me as all that interesting. That is until I learned that there was some remarkable science behind it! Now I’m thinking this is a wonderful example of how sometimes we need to hear something 1,000 different ways before we really understand it.
Art, like any other subject, doesn’t have to be something we just instinctively “get”. You wouldn’t expect for somebody seeing a formula like E= mc2 for the first time to understand it’s complexities, its significance, and its history. So why do we feel bad or unintellectual if we don’t “get” a great work of art, writing, or music without any training?
So, maybe you still aren’t smitten with the Mona Lisa, but now, at least, you have one more way to appreciate the work of Leonardo da Vinci, a master who was able to combine chemistry, biology, and art to awe us for 500 years.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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