ArticlesOpinionPoint - Counter Point

“The Mona Lisa Isn’t Even That Great” vs. “So Make Something Better”

Written by: Everett Ririe

Point: The Mona Lisa Isn’t Even That Great

By Bernine Arthurson
Amateur Art Critic

Ah, the Louvre: the most famous art museum in the world. Why? Sure, it has more paintings than a visitor could see in a day and a piece by every artist with a household name, but none of them are any good. Even the most famous painting of them all, Mona Lisa, lauded as the pinnacle of artistic achievement, is nothing more than a painting of a girl smirking. A good 50% of all portraits ever made are the image of a woman. There are millions like it; where’s the creativity?

Why have I not seen a modern original, such as Rojom’s The Council of Eldertubbies or The Forgiveness of Jon, both far better pieces than anything Da Vinci ever painted, in a museum? Among classical works, what could be more meaningful than The Ugly Duchess? What piece plays on a viewer’s emotions more than those soup cans by that Warhol guy? And yet, the Louvre displays Mona Lisa as the crown jewel of its collection like a pig wearing lipstick. No gilded frames or crowds of slack-jawed fools will make me mistake it for anything more than the un-inspired sketch it is.

As for the rest of the Louvre, it’s nothing but moody landscapes and portraits — pictures my phone camera could take with better detail, that Instagram filters could instill with more vibrant color. What paintings couldn’t be photographed, I could make in seconds with a one-sentence prompt to any AI image-generation tool. Nothing in the Louvre could compare to the limitlessness of my creativity and an AI’s ability to create any image I desire. If I want to see a teddy bear covered in human flesh, sipping apple juice through a silly straw, I can.

What’s the point of the museum if the only thing worth seeing is the exit?

Counterpoint: So Make Something Better

By Flynn Flanderfield
Professional Amateur Art Critic

If you think the Louvre doesn’t have a single piece of art worth your time, then make something better. I didn’t get a PhD in art history to explain what gives a piece value to an ignoramus who prefers gag images to culturally significant masterpieces. Art is about following long-established rules about which colors you can use, who your subjects can be, and how much time you have to spend per square inch of canvas before your work is complete — rules an AI doesn’t know to follow. The Louvre is covered in works by “the old masters” because these masters knew everything there was to know about art. How can a casual critic like you disparage Mona Lisa without even a bachelor’s in the arts?

People like you think that any image can be art, but it takes much more than a few brushstrokes on a canvas for something to be art, let alone good art. You know a piece of art has style when you can pick up on every possible detail — from the hex code of each individual color to the textural indentation of every brush bristle. And when I look at a really good painting, I can immediately tell whether the artist was sitting down or standing up while painting it. So, unless your phone’s camera is letting you choose the properties of each individual pixel, the photos it takes will never be art.

And anything an AI generates is merely derivative of millions of true artists’ styles. Even the Warhol painting you mentioned, Campbell’s Soup Cans, is an original, non-derivative piece.

Sure, Mona Lisa is just another woman in a portrait, but it obeys every rule of art in a masterful display of what all other works of art should replicate.

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