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The reason behind the hype around the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa being looked at by visitors of a museum

The adulation of the Mona Lisa tells a story about popular culture.

Anyone who ever had to endure endless queues to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa will understand this question of its popularity.

Nestled among our civilization’s most magnificent creations, the story of the world’s most famous painting is not so much a story about artistic merit, but about how art breaks into our culture.

Had Vincenzo Peruggia not lifted the painting off the Louvre wall in 1911, would the elusive smile be as enchanting today as to draw nearly 80% of all visitors to the museum just to see it?

This article was previously published in Fair Observer.
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