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Power of a Gaze

Art Criticism

Updated on Oct 11, 2023

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"Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you
You're so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only 'cause you're lonely they have blamed you?
For that Mona Lisa strangeness in your smile?
Do you smile to tempt a lover, Mona Lisa?
Or is this your way to hide a broken heart?
Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep
They just lie there, and they die there
Are you warm? Are you real, Mona Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art?"

Lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
A person sees an object on a wall …

A wooden panel with a figure of a woman painted and looking outward …
Seemingly looking at you …
You yourself approach this object …
It’s rather small .
Approximately 30 inches tall
Approximately 21 inches wide.

Is this Art ?
Is art simply and solely the creation of said object to be viewed ?

That object is a crafting of some sort …
It exists somehow so as to prompt the viewer :
To regard it as something to look at
To pay attention to
To contemplate

ART is an experience .

Art is not simply the crafting of an object
And also …
Art is not simply an idea in the persons head

The Art experience is a interaction with an object -

Which thereby prompts ideas ..
And this subsequent prompting of ideas .
Is somehow prompted by THAT object .

An interface between said object and said viewer .

We are now considering the object called : The Mona Lisa .

The Mona Lisa measures approximately 30 X 21 inches
It is a painting on a wooden panel .

This painting depicts an image of a person with their hands crossed .
This person is a woman .
Volumes have been written concerning the model
The providence of said object
It’s historical importance and reference of legacy .

The Mona Lisa is attributed to Leonardo DaVinci .

Volumes have also been produced regarding his painting approaches
And personal relationships between DaVinci and his life , travels , and of course people involved .

The Mona Lisa has prompted music which exalts.

This object has prompted dreams
As well as , Persons who attempt to vandalize or destroy it .

Why might this small painting have such power and allure ???

I propose that it is a basic irreducible acknowledgement between the viewer and subject .
The subject being the object named the Mona Lisa .

A person is depicted and seems to return your gaze and has an innate presence displayed by a mysterious and enigmatic smile .
Is she looking at you ?
Is she smiling ?
Might she be smiling at you ???

That small object - depicting such person apparently returning gaze with only the beginning of a smile .

An EMERGENCE of a smile .

There seems to be recognition and empathy .
The eyes seem to follow the viewer …
This suggestion of a smile seems to suggest a person and thereby a corresponding soul .

There seems to be a feeling of satisfaction ?

A somewhat calm happiness ? Tranquility or serenity ?

That gaze - and subsequent smile - is it recognition between the viewer and subject matter ?

Whatever the basic psychological mechanism , the grab is irreducible .

The Mona Lisa is a small but incredibly powerful object that grabs your attention and makes you feel as if there is a presence of recognition .
That is the grab … such is the power .

Gaze to gaze

A Smile as presence of personhood or soul .

Recognition as soul to soul .

Art is not nature …
Art is man made and does not merely grow on trees to be collected later .

The correspondence between a real person , the viewer and a man made object depicting another person gazing back at you . Held by a mere suggestion of a smile .

As a viewer and as another artist this seems like sorcery !
How do you accomplish that ?
I myself find this so riveting as to induce tears and awe .
Please consider this as a sketch , a suggestion of explanation to possibly be fleshed out by scholars and others .

Thank you for visiting Lost in Thought gallery .
G. Scott Lamanna
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