Mona Lisa doesn't need Google Art Project
Since Google Art Project launched, art lovers have been asking why the world's most famous painting -- Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" -- isn't included on the site that features digitized images of works from select museum collections around the world.
The simple answer is that the "Mona Lisa" and some other works from the Louvre Museum in Paris are already available online, but on a different art site, one that's organized by a French cultural body known as the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France).
When it comes to protecting their culture from American hegemony, especially of the Google variety, the French have preferred to do it their way. In 2009, a court ruled that the Google Book Project could no longer scan copyrighted books in France, saying that the company was violating the law.
The Google Art Project seems to have realized some success in France, having signed on the Musée d'Orsay. The Internet company apparently has learned from its past mistakes and is seeking partnerships with art institutions in what can be seen as an attempt to avoid legal conflicts.
Or maybe not. "Mona Lisa" can be viewed on the C2RMF site in super-high-resolution, allowing you to zoom into the painting down to a granular level where you can view tiny cracks and other imperfections. Other viewable paintings by the Renaissance master include "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne" and "Saint Jean-Baptiste."
The French site also includes works by Raphael, Titian, Watteau, Van Gogh and more. The paintings come from the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, Musée de l'Orangerie and the Musée Rodin.
-- David Ng
Photo: The "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Credit: Horacio Villalobos / EPA.