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The Mona Lisa Smile

The Mona Lisa Smile
Photo Information
Copyright: Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6809 W: 476 N: 12169] (41257)
Genre: People
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2016-10-08
Categories: Humorous, Transportation, Artwork
Camera: iPhone 6 Plus
Exposure: 30 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Compelling Backdrops [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2016-10-20 4:11
Viewed: 1618
Points: 26
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The moving sidewalk, a human conveyor belt, was near its end. The woman on the left had just bent over to pick up her suitcase. Of course, the man in the center was checking his mobile phone — a necessity for people modern life. The scene was the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I had just flown in from Washington, DC, preparing for a change of flight to Madison, Wisconsin.

Of course, the focal point of the photo is the Mona Lisa, the most famous portrait on the globe, and the original which is hanging in the Musé du Louvre in Paris. Eighty-four percent of the visitors to the Louvre are there to see this portrait and not the tens-of-thousands of other magnificent works in the museum.

My friends who know me also know that as a scientist-artist, I've had a lifelong love affair with the Mona Lisa. They know that Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate scientist-artist and the creator of the portrait, has been my cultural hero. And I've written two books about Leonardo, "Math and the Mona Lisa" for Smithsonian Books and "Leonardo's Universe" for National Geographic Books. So, being present at this scene immediately attracted my attention. I took half a dozen photos, focusing on the portrait while the travelers sailed by. I liked this particular shot better than the others since it had the most number of individuals. Also, good art is meant to be "open-ended." The Portrait of Mona Lisa is open-ended, with everyone walking away with a different impression, "She looks confident," "She looks perplexed," "She looks happy," "She is pregnant..." Leonardo ultimate message to the viewer is "In my notebooks and paintings, I've communicated with you, but only up to a point. The rest is withheld since it is my destiny to know more than you will ever know!"

In the word "SMILE" the letter "S" is missing. Will the viewer wonder is the message really just "MILE?" How could I have allowed one of the travelers to block a letter? It was not intended.

In the far right in the portrait just above the white border there is a bridge. For hundreds of years the bridge was thought to be a figment of Leonardo's imagination. I joined TE exactly ten years ago when I saw a photo posted showing the actual bridge by a former TE-member, Sabrina Pezzoli. It is the Ponte Buriano in Arezzo not far from Florence. The rocky cliffs on the left were also thought to have been figments of Leonardo's imagination. I learned through TE-members Sabrina and Stella Marinazzo that these are the Balze Rocks in Valdarno.

In the workshop I posted a posed photo of my wife riding the conveyor belt.

holmertz, papagolf21, alvaraalto, Royaldevon, jhm, kordinator, COSTANTINO, mcmtanyel has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Hunkar: Hakikaten öyle.batalay 1 2016-10-24 03:44
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Bülent,
This is an amusing photo, partly because of the mysterious message. What does "mile" mean in this case? ;-) I like that the people on the moving sidewalk all play their part, unknowingly, in the composition, especially the man checking his phone against the white part of the poster. When I saw the Mona Lisa in the Lovre I got a feeling that this famous portrait has left the art of world and almost become kitsch, because her room is always so totally crowded that hardly anybody can actually watch the painting. Just outside there were several other Leonardo paintings, basically just as good, and nobody cared. When I saw Leonardo's almost equally famous Lady with an Ermine in Krakow, Poland, I was alone, except for a guard, and could study the painting quite closely.
Kind regards,

Bonjour, cher ami Bulent,
Une note très intéressante qui accompagne parfaitement les deux prises de vue.
Je regrette de ne pas pouvoir maîtriser la langue anglaise, la lecture des livres m'aurait intéressé.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11649 W: 126 N: 20954] (108189)
  • [2016-10-20 7:40]

Hi Bulent,very original capture,i like the moving effect of the people in the long time of exposure in front of this Monnalisa,and i like a lot the WS with your wife too,good ideas for a lovely shot,well done! Have a nice evening and thanks,Luciano

Bonjour Bulent,

Il fallait le voir et ensuite bien le mettre en image et ensuite raconter une petite histoire. Un beau moment de la vie quotidienne dans les transports en commun.



Hi Bulent
Once upon a time this iconic portrait would have set the masses aghast, today I don't think so much. As you say so many visit the museum just to see the painting. I wonder what the average time spent admiring it is? I wonder how many people may see it so they can say they see it! The man on the path is an apt example, head buried in the phone paying no attention to one of the most iconic ever paintings just inches away. I think today so much of what we see is not studied or admired, but it's just another part of a never endings scrolling wall and that's what artists must contend with now. The death of subtlety is upon us :)
Best wishes from Ireland

Hello Bulent
Attractive observation with Mona Lisa inspecting the end of the conveying belt. This scene needs the interaction of the smile and the passing people. You can see this in my opinion as you compare the both pictures of this post.
Excellent presentation with also a good educational info.
Groet Rob

Hello Bulent,

I read your notes with a smile on my face, though probably not as enigmatic as that shown in the portrait, for I had noticed the 'Mile, On' and connected it with the people moving along the escalator.
Though the Mona Lisa is the focal image, she is closely followed by the central passenger who is nicely highlighted by the poster and creates the narrative. Is he photographing the poster, is he referencing the poster, is he secretly photographing the guy behind him or is he just boringly reading a text message?

Have a good day,
Bev :-)

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 24291 W: 523 N: 40622] (174858)
  • [2016-10-21 4:47]

Dear Bulent,

You took a picture of your big favorite, the Mona Lisa.
You know I am a fan of your pictures of the Lady.
Your picture a playing of the moment the S removed.
Composition and presentation are wonderful.
Very well done, TFS.

Best regards,

  • Great 
  • Tue Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9017 W: 57 N: 15135] (56094)
  • [2016-10-23 2:18]

Hello Bulent,
A wonderful impression from the airport, where the Mona Lisa is smiling and looking at all the people passing by, who probably won't even notice her, because they are indeed looking at their mobile phones, what else can you do on such a moving sidewalk? I like the slight blur of the silhouettes too.

Dear Bulent
A fine view of Mona Lisa and the end of the conveying belt.
This scene needs the interaction of the smile and the passing people.
Fantastic photos in workshop, too.
Excellent educational info.
Best wishes

Bülent Bey,
Modern yaşam geçmişin güzellikleri olmadan hiçbir şey ifade etmiyor.

Hello dear Bulent and have a nice time
and a happy new day
classical photo of the most famous portrait
on the globe good idea dear friend
nice pov your notes are useful

Selamlar Bülent Bey,
Actually I prefer the workshop photo with your wife on the people mover, in that photo you have two ladies that are centuries apart in environments that are centuries apart. However, I can see why you would make it the workshop photo, especially if you were going to point out that it was your wife that was in the frame.

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