Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Mona Lisa Curse

March 7, 2011 by  
Filed under videos

Mono and Damien
The Mona Lisa Curse
a 2008 British documentary by the art critic Robert Hughes which discusses the transformation of art into commodity. Hughes compares the Mona Lisa, with Damien Hirst’s, diamond encrusted skull,”For the Love of God” with saying:


“What ties the Mona Lisa to this glittery bobble is their role in a giant shift in the art world, that shift is all about money. It’s a story that I’ve watch unfold during the last 50 years. I’ve seen with growing disgust; the fetishization of art, the vast inflation of prices, and the effect of this on artists and museums. The entanglement of big money with art has become a curse on how art is made, controlled, and above all – in the way that it’s experienced. And this curse has affected the entire art world.”

(….)“Apart from drugs, art is the biggest unregulated market in the world, with contemporary art sales estimated at around $18 billion a year.” Hughes makes a case that this commercialization of contemporary art has lead to “… the consequences of such prices, was that art became admired, not through any critical perspective, but for its price tag. Auction houses were the new arbiters of taste. … The prices, they have a cultural function – their cultural function is to strike you blind, so that you can’t make your own judgments.” “The entanglement of big money with art has become a curse on how art is made, controlled, and above all – in the way that it’s experienced.”


In this 12 part YouTube version I was able to embed the playlist for all of the movies in one viewer, the 12 parts should play as one long video without you having to do anything however you can also click on the (rollover) thumbnails or use the next and back arrow buttons to navigate. This video has made the rounds on many other art blogs but I just saw the entire video for the first time today and figured that many readers of this blog might have missed this important video as well and would appreciate another chance to see it. note: YouTube removed this video awhile back – see note below for new version)

(10/18/12 – note, I found the full length version of this video available on YouTube again so I’m re-posting it – not sure how long it will be available but perhaps it will help someone who hasn’t yet seen it…)

 << Previous Post -       - Next Post >>


11 Responses to “The Mona Lisa Curse”
  1. That was a very eye-opening film for me and gave me a much better perspective on the spectacle of Art.

  2. Having been a painter on the fringes of the NYC art world during the time of this transformational change described here by Mr. Hughes and having seen the power of money become the dominate power over the very art it devours…it becomes somewhat depressing, or is just another economic bubble about to burst?
    Excellent series. Thank you for bringing it forth.

  3. Mike Manley says:

    When Vincent Desiderio came to give his fall workshop at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts he showed us this film at lunch one day. It was if not eye opening a poke in the eye anyway, I mean anyone who’s seriously involved in the art world kind of already knew this to some degree, it’s like smelling the smoke but not seeing the fire, if you smell it you still know it’s there. But seeing it all laid out like this is sobering. It did inspire a great deal of talk and back and forth between Vince and the class.

  4. bill murphy says:

    Larry, I’m so glad you posted this. In a way the whole film could have been distilled down to the five minute conversation between Hughes and the rich Warhol collector….talk about the emperor’s new clothes.

  5. Valentino says:

    I remember what my professor (she ranks among the greatest experts on contemporary art in Europe) once said : “Post-war art is more about money than anything else.” In her most recent book “Tradition and Modernity” she also stated that “Definition of art is constantly changing…but the greatest artists have always retained a link with the spiritual heritage of the past.”

    I recommend watching BBC documentary “Why Beauty Matters” by philosopher Roger Scruton, as well

  6. Larry Brooks says:

    I’m only part way through this and loving it. Robert Hughes has long been my favorite writer on art, and I can’t believe I hadn’t come across this film sooner. Thanks so much for posting it.

  7. Jaap says:

    Hi PP,
    What a great documentary. Stunning stuff. Thanks for posting.
    Just one thought after hearing Hughes comment on Hirsts’ For The Love Of God…
    Isn’t that piece (FTLoG) exactly doing what Hughes requires of great art? It comments om the wicked/crazy (art) world it came out of.
    It is the best piece Hirst ever made, even if he did so by accident or fame or wanting to earn more money.
    It says
    -in my point of view- precisely what is so rotten about the art world of today -and comments on it, by showing us the ultimate symbol of death that lies beneath all our miserable attempts to be important. To make money. To spend money. To show off. And to make art.
    And you don’t have to buy that work of art to understand that, or even go see it. A simple postcard can do the trick. Or a copy found on the web.
    Well that’s it from me.

  8. Ann Scott says:

    Wow, wow wow…fantastic. Just watched half of it and will continue (I’m at work…my bad!). I am hoping that at some point we get out of the suffocating “boys club” of art and I get to hear about some of the great women artists of that time. I’ll be back with more comments after I see the whole thing. Thanks so much for posting Larry!

  9. theo says:

    where can i find the 12 part anthology?

    • Larry says:

      Sorry, Youtube seems to have recently taken the movies down due to copyright issues. I hope many people got a chance to watch it before they did…


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] The entire 12-part YouTube video release has been pieced together by Larry Groff (thank you, Larry!) into one long, uninterrupted whole which he has posted on his blog, Painting Perceptions. […]

Please share your thoughts

comment here...
if want to show your picture with your comment, go get a gravatar!