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Mona Lisa as a Symbol and a Cultural Authority

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The Mona Lisa is a painting of a portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci. It is considered high art as it is a part of the fine arts and is highly valued which were exposed mostly to the upper classmen and the elites. Mona was a wife of a merchant which represented wealth and class. During this time those who were painted or were the subjects of an art piece were considered to be high class or well known. The fine arts are highly based on institutions that upholds rules and education standards which is based on long traditions and methods of craftsmenship and skill. High art recognizes tradition but also pushes it beyond limits, respecting traditions is a step forward of achievement. Leonardo surpassed those who came before him and that was how he became successful in the fine arts. The Mona Lisa was part of the illusionism representing vision which is a tool of all knowledge and understanding of the truth. This would be seen as high culture according the Leavisities and Frankfurt Critical theorists because fine arts are considered high art as it represents the best of culture or the canon of good works. Mona Lisa comes to signify and achieve authority in the west which is carried out around the world she has become a symbol and a cultural authority.

An example of the Mona Lisa’s reproduction is The Sprinkle water packaging as an “Art collections Mona Lisa”. This gives a luxury sense of it being limited edition especially when the only features that can be seen are her eyes glaring at the consumer. This shows the detachment to the original due to mass reproduction which leavisities and Frankfurt would justify as popular culture or low culture and also that it takes away the essence and richness of the original. It is a copy of the original that can be reproduced over and over where as the original there can only be one.

With Mona Lisa being a cultural Icon she represents class and luxury due to her “Aura”, the energy that the original sends of with only just the eye in the package it speaks to us without communication. This reproduction and manipulation of the Mona Lisa mainly aims to sell through the use of using iconic figures as a means to promote luxury and class. Which linking to Ingris article “it privileges mindless entertainments over high culture” this example is similar to Beethoven’s Symphonies used as means to advertising products undermining the context of the “original”. Leavisities and Frankfurt Critical theorist would believe that this example proves their point of how culture in modern society is manufactured solely to sell rather than allow people to critically thing due to profit making in the capitalist society which leads to the decline of the authentic art through the rise of industrialization of culture.

But the British cultural theorists would believe that this manipulation and reproduction of the original is also a part of culture as it represents culture of the mass with the example of the Mona Lisa and its reproduction it allows the high art to reach the realm of the everyday life with the interactions within consumer culture. How people interact it in different culture is different due to the different culture values and believes that shapes one view. However, the Sprinkle water company was established in Thailand. Due to the influence in western culture people also view the Mona Lisa as high due to it being a part of the fine arts it is highly valued in the fine arts. Today it is preserved in the museum with high preservation process to prevent the painting from degradation. The connotation behind the Mona Lisa is that it represents luxury and class. Corporation uses her as an iconic symbol of luxury and class a promoting tool in order to increase the demand and gain profit. William would say that this is a part of culture as it is the representation and practices of daily life in the context of consumption and material conditions of production which he calls “cultural materialism”. The relationship of the product and the consumer is also considered a part of culture as it is seen to be a part of peoples every day life. By buying the Sprinkle water consumers feel luxurious and classy due to the unique geometric form with triangular facets of the bottle and the connotation that Mona Lisa. Other than that analyzing how the water is designed is through the inspiration of nature or bio-mimicry of the leaf structure as well as representation of water crystallization and cleanliness. This concept of William can be applicable to contemporary modern world which based on capitalism culture. Therefore, from this we can identify that there is a blur and an overlap between pop culture and art which is used in our everyday life as a part of culture.

To conclude, it can be seen that there are many approaches in defining culture. Through culture and society rapidly changing the values of what considers high and low also changes. The examples of the Mona Lisa exemplify the conflict and controversial debates of defining culture of Leavisities, Frankfurt and the British cultural theorists. It can also be seen that aesthetic judgment of what is high and low can not be able to be universal as it depends on the individual’s cultural taste and that there is an overlap of art also being a part of the everyday life realm. 

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Mona Lisa As A Symbol And A Cultural Authority. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from
“Mona Lisa As A Symbol And A Cultural Authority.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2021,
Mona Lisa As A Symbol And A Cultural Authority. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2022].
Mona Lisa As A Symbol And A Cultural Authority [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jun 09 [cited 2022 May 29]. Available from:
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