As Barbara Kruger said in her untitled 1982 work, “You invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece.”
I believe this is the reason so many different businesses, companies and people, use, wear, or have common articles with famous art images on them. They are trying to have the “greatness” or the “divinity” as it were, rub off a little on them. Coffee mugs with great works of art on them, or in my case, a yearly calendar with paintings by Van Gogh on each page, help us feel better about ourselves. I like being able to look at the calendar on the wall in my house, and being able to see a different work by Van Gogh each month; I feel a little better each time I look at it. While I might not be able to ever own one, I can at least have likenesses of them on my wall calendar, and I don’t feel so much like a savage, but a little more cultured for it.
Over the years, I have come across many restaurants that have incorporated famous works into their décor or their menus. There are the Italian restaurants that have a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the menu, or the Italian restaurants that have a mural of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” painted on the wall or pictured on the menu. Additionally, I came across an Italian restaurant somewhere that had taken Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” and substituted a bowl of pasta in place of Adam, so God was touching a bowl of pasta instead of Adam. Pretty Cheeky, to say the least. Of course, there is also the Greek restaurants that use a picture of the Acropolis of Athens or the Parthenon in their menu or painted on the walls.
I think, it is all to bring a bit of authenticity, to the restaurant or create a sense of ambiance, but if you ask me, it just creates a sense of gaudiness.
It reminds me of Marcel Duchamp and his taking the portrait of Mona Lisa and putting a moustache and goatee on it, and now it is called “L.H.O.O.Q.” He is skewering the conventions of what exactly is art, and why is it art, adding graffiti...
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