by STIRworldFeb 18, 2022
Mona Lisa, the world's most famous painting, was recently vandalised by a man disguised as an elderly lady in a wheelchair. Although the prominent painting had previously been vandalised, resulting in the installation of a high protection glass case around it, art connoisseurs were perplexed by the breaking attempt given the security. An "old woman" jumped out of her wheelchair at the Louvre Museum in Paris to smear cake on the Mona Lisa artwork. The images and videos of the famous painting stained with cake cream went viral on social media. The breaking attempt astounded the audiences, both online and offline.
According to reports, a man dressed as an elderly woman in a wheelchair leapt up and tossed cake at the famed painting, frightening spectators. He allegedly tried to break through the bulletproof glass that guards Leonardo da Vinci's work in the Louvre Museum. Eyewitnesses described the culprit as a man in a wheelchair wearing a wig. At first, he attempted to destroy the display case. When that didn't work, he threw the cake onto the canvas and spread it over the glass panel. He also sprinkled roses before being thrown to the ground by security.
In the video the cake is smeared across the glass behind which the Mona Lisa sits. It also shows the perpetrator speaking to the visitors in French as he is being led away by security. The man reportedly shouted, among other things, "some people are trying to destroy the earth, think of the earth!"
Though many art vandals are said to be diagnosed with mental disorder, in many cases the artwork is targeted for a specific reason, often political, and the aesthetic aggressors want to get attention for their cause by damaging a cultural treasure. There have been several incidents of vandalism against contemporary art shows, and certain artefacts, such as the Night Watch and The Little Mermaid have been deliberately damaged multiple times. A large proportion of damage consists of small scratches, sticky chewing gum, pencil marks, and other little blemishes that generally go unnoticed. Protesters have long used vandalism as a fascinating and effective means of attracting attention.
However, an act of vandalism does not necessarily have a motive; in many situations, aggressive and tragic actions are the result of unpredictable behaviour induced by mental instability. The damage of Michelangelo's Pietà by Laszlo Toth is perhaps one of the most well-known examples. Anna Leporskaya's Three Figures, for example, was sent for restoration after a guard doodled on it with a ballpoint pen on his first day. Also, not everyone appreciated the creative meaning behind a $120,000 banana that had been duct taped to a wall, but one hungry artist did. Georgia-based installation and performance artist David Datuna pulled the artwork off the wall and ate it in front of hundreds of startled bystanders.
The Mona Lisa, an Italian Renaissance half-length portrait painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is regarded as a quintessential masterpiece. It is described as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world."
Meanwhile, it should be noted that this is not the first time the Mona Lisa has been vandalised. According to reports, a vandal doused the painting with acid in 1956, severely damaging the lower part of the masterpiece. Because of this incident, the Mona Lisa is now protected by a bulletproof glass. In the 1900s, an employee stole it from the museum, and in 1956, Bolivian Ugo Ungaza Villegas threw a rock at the Mona Lisa while it was on display. Several other incidents occurred in the years that followed. It draws tens of thousands of visitors each year due to the subject's enigmatic identity, her enigmatic expression, and the painter's unrivalled art techniques.
Visitors made sure to capture the drama on camera as it unfolded. A video showed art enthusiasts holding their phones and photographing the stained glass. The cake cream was cleaned off the panel after the man was removed.
The masterpiece is said to be on display in the Louvre's largest room, the Salle des États, the most inaccessible room in Louvre, which also houses other notable Venetian paintings such as Veronese's The Wedding Feast at Cana.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))