STAQI #4 (8 Feb 2019)

Annotated Bibliography:

Hughes, Robert. “The Mona Lisa Curse.”, Oxford Film & Television, Channel 4 Television Corporation, Sep 18 2008.

Controversial art critic Robert Hughes’ startling expose of the commodification of the Mona Lisa, traces the shift in trajectory of the painting that “had made the leap from artwork to an icon of mass consumption” after journeying from the Louvre in France, to the MET in New York in 1963. Hughes marks this advent in the International Art Market as the mark by which art was experienced as a codified, commodified signifier, castigating the Mona Lisa as the “curse” that infected the entire art world. The influence of corporations and conglomerates on the bourgeoning art-world in the mid 60s changed Museum Culture and introduced Art as a commodity much to Hughes’ chagrin.

“28 then, now 70”, Hughes’ transfixion with the Mona Lisa’s journey through History reflects his own shift from art enthusiast to critic. Influenced by the camaraderie of revolutionary pop-artist Robert Rauschenberg, Hughes uses Rauscherberg’s experiences to emphasize his point, “Apart from drugs art is the biggest unregulated market in the world” (0:4:52).

Questioning the value of Art as it is passed through auction-houses and dealers as an object of consumption vs. an aesthetic social political pedagogical statement, Hughes highlights the influence of billionaire hedge-fund collectors on the market as consumers who increase its value by association, not epistemically. Ironically the late Hughes would decry today’s Instagrammable world where people mostly queue for selfies with an artwork versus actually looking at a painting. 


Blackwell, Lewis. “The End of Print: The Grafik Design of David Carson”, 2nd Edition. London, UK: Laurence King Publishing, 2000.