PARIS — Even in a city saturated with excellent fall exhibitions, from the Grand Palais’s retrospective of El Greco to the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s showcase of Charlotte Perriand, the show of the season here is the decade-in-the-works “Leonardo da Vinci,” at the Musée du Louvre. Mandatory timed tickets are sold out through November for this thorough, deeply serious exhibition, which sloughs off the myths that cling to this least productive of Renaissance masters. You will find here a cleaner, sprightlier Leonardo — or at least you will in the show downstairs, where four of the Louvre’s five paintings by the artist have been relocated.
巴黎——即便是在一个优秀秋展云集的城市，从大皇宫(Grand Palais)的埃尔·格列柯(El Greco)回顾展，到路易·威登基金会(Fondation Louis Vuitton)的夏洛特·佩里安(Charlotte Perriand)展览，这里的本季重头戏，仍是十年磨一剑的卢浮宫列奥纳多·达·芬奇(Leonardo da Vinci)展。这场深入而严肃的展览的限时门票已经卖到了十一月底，它将破除萦绕在这位产量最低的文艺复兴大师身上的许多迷思。在这里，你将看到一个更洁净、更有生气的列奥纳多——或者至少你将在楼下的展览中看到，他的五幅卢浮宫藏画中的四幅被搬到了楼下。
Upstairs, where Leonardo’s most famous work remains, is still a fiasco.
The Louvre houses the greatest collection of art anywhere in Europe, within a palace that is a masterpiece in its own right. It is, by some distance, the most popular museum in the world. In 2018 a record 10 million visitors, three-quarters of them foreign tourists, besieged the joint: up 25 percent on the previous year, and more than triple the attendance of the Centre Pompidou or the Musée d’Orsay.
卢浮宫拥有全欧洲最伟大的艺术收藏，这座宫殿本身就是一件杰作。它是世界上最受欢迎的博物馆，甩开第二名许多。2018年，创纪录的1000万游客——其中四分之三是外国游客——涌入这个地方：比前一年增加了25%，是蓬皮杜中心(Centre Pompidou)或奥赛博物馆(Musée d’Orsay)游客人数的三倍多。
Yet the Louvre is being held hostage by the Kim Kardashian of 16th-century Italian portraiture: the handsome but only moderately interesting Lisa Gherardini, better known (after her husband) as La Gioconda, whose renown so eclipses her importance that no one can even remember how she got famous in the first place.
而卢浮宫却已被16世纪意大利肖像画中的金·卡戴珊(Kim Kardashian)劫持：俊美却只是略微有趣的丽莎·盖拉尔迪尼(Lisa Gherardini)——人称（随夫姓）拉·乔孔达(La Gioconda)——她的名望远远超过了自身的重要性，以至于甚至无人记得她最初是如何成名的。
Some 80 percent of visitors, according to the Louvre’s research, are here for the Mona Lisa — and most of them leave unhappy. Content in the 20th century to be merely famous, she has become, in this age of mass tourism and digital narcissism, a black hole of anti-art who has turned the museum inside out.
This past summer, amid 100-degree-plus heat, the Louvre undertook a renovation of the Mona Lisa’s gallery: the arching Salle des États, in the museum’s Denon wing, which once housed Parliament of France. What a mess this was. Relocated to the Richelieu painting wing, the Mona Lisa reduced the museum’s Flemish collection into wallpaper for a cattle pen, where guards shooed along irritated, sweaty selfie-snappers who’d endured a half-hour line. The overcrowding was so bad, the museum had to shut its doors on several days. “The Louvre is suffocating,” said a statement from the union of the museum’s security staff, who went on strike.
刚刚过去的夏天，在超过37度的高温下，卢浮宫对《蒙娜丽莎》的展厅——位于德农馆(Denon)的拱形众国厅(Salle des États)——进行了翻修，那里曾是法国议会所在地。这真是一团糟。《蒙娜丽莎》搬到黎塞留馆(Richelieu)后，卢浮宫的弗拉芒画派藏品已经沦为牛棚里的墙纸，保安驱赶着怒气冲冲、汗流浃背、已经忍受了半小时长队的自拍者们。过度拥挤如此严重，以至于博物馆不得不关门好几天。“卢浮宫快窒息了，”发起罢工的卢浮宫保安人员工会发表声明说。
Now the Mona Lisa is back in her regular spot, on a freestanding wall that’s been repainted an admittedly chic Prussian blue. (Louis Frank, one of the two curators of the Leonardo retrospective, told me there was never any possibility of including the Mona Lisa in the show. The exhibition can “only” be visited by 5,000 people per day; the Salle des États gets 30,000.)
I went up with the crowds recently. Things were no better. Now, you must line up in a hideous, T.S.A.-style snake of retractable barriers that ends about 12 feet from the Leonardo — which, for a painting that’s just two and a half feet tall, is too far for looking and way too far for a good selfie.
Apparently the painting is beneath some nifty new nonreflective glass, but at this distance how could I tell? My fellow visitors and I could hardly see the thing, and we were shunted off in less than a minute. All this for a painting that (as the Louvre’s current show confirms) is hardly Leonardo’s most interesting, and that has drowned out the Venetian masterpieces in the Salle des États, such as Titian’s “Woman With a Mirror,” or Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana,” which Beyoncé was smart enough not to neglect. The museum is admitting as much with the pathetic new signs in the Salle des États: “The Mona Lisa is surrounded by other masterpieces — take a look around the room.”
This is a gallery that makes the Spirit Airlines boarding process look like a model of efficiency, and offers about as much visual delight. If you think me some sniffy aesthete for saying so, listen to the crowds: In a poll of British tourists earlier this year, the Mona Lisa was voted the “world’s most disappointing attraction,” beating out Checkpoint Charlie, the Spanish Steps, and that urinating boy in Brussels. If curators think that they are inspiring the next generation of art lovers, they are in fact doing the opposite. People come out of obligation, and leave discouraged.
这个展厅让精神航空公司(Spirit Airlines)的登机过程看起来像是效率的典范，并且提供同样多的视觉乐趣。如果你以为我是某个装高冷的审美家才这么说，那么听听众人的看法：在今年早些时候对英国游客进行的一项民意调查中，《蒙娜丽莎》被评为“世界上最令人失望的景点”，击败查理检查哨(Checkpoint Charlie)、西班牙阶梯(Spanish Steps)和布鲁塞尔那个撒尿的男孩。如果策展人们认为他们是在启发下一代艺术爱好者，他们实际上是在做相反的事。人们奔着这个必看名画而来，又垂头丧气地离开。
Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum’s director, has said the Louvre might take further steps to alleviate Mona mania in coming years: new entrances, timed tickets. This misunderstands the problem — for the Louvre, with more gallery space than any museum on the planet, isn’t that swamped if you can get through the security lines. On my last visit the Islamic galleries were nearly empty. The French painting wing was trafficked by just a few visitors. Even the Venus de Milo, perhaps the second most famous work of art in the museum, draws a comfortable few dozen peepers at a time.
The Louvre does not have an overcrowding problem per se. It has a Mona Lisa problem. No other iconic painting — not Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” at the Uffizi in Florence, not Klimt’s “Kiss” at the Belvedere in Vienna, not “Starry Night” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York — comes anywhere close to monopolizing its institution like she does. And if tourist numbers continue to rise, if last year’s 10 million visitors become next year’s 11 or 12, the place is going to crack.
It is time for the Louvre to admit defeat. It is time for the Mona Lisa to go.
She needs her own space. Build a pavilion for her, perhaps in the Tuileries, that is optimized for the crowds. Connect it to the main museum via the underground mall known as the Carrousel du Louvre, and sell a single ticket for both locations. Set up prime selfie stations, and let more curious visitors learn about the mysterious Gioconda with supplementary exhibits. Get it up in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Let Kylian Mbappé inaugurate it, maybe with Carla Bruni alongside. Sell macarons.
她需要自己的空间。也许可以在杜伊勒里宫为她建造一个临时展馆，满足游人的需要。可以通过名为卢浮旋转木马(Carrousel du Louvre)的地下商场，把它和主要博物馆连接起来，一张通票可以去这两个地点。设立最佳自拍站，用补充展品让更多好奇的游客了解神秘的乔孔达。在2024年夏季奥运会之前把它建好。让凯丽安·姆巴佩(Kylian Mbappé)来主持开馆典礼，或许再加上卡拉·布吕尼(Carla Bruni)。展馆出售马卡龙。
It will need to be big, but I cannot conceive of an easier fund-raising project. The Mona Lisa Pavilion will instantly become the most popular attraction in the most popular tourist destination on earth. Surely, having spent more than a billion dollars to launch the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the potentates of the United Arab Emirates would be glad to fund the new facility, especially if it came with naming rights. The Sheikh Zayed Mona Lisa Pavilion: it has a ring to it, n’est-ce pas?
We have models for this. Picasso’s “Guernica” was shown in its own pavilion in Madrid for over a decade, before the opening of the Reina Sofía Museum. A more relevant example — given that the Mona Lisa is nowadays less a work of art than a holy relic — is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the holiest artwork in Mexico City, venerated by millions of pilgrims a year. Worshipers of the Virgin stand on moving walkways. I can picture the same travelators in front of the Gioconda, smoothly guiding tourists past the Leonardo and into the gift shop.
我们有模板。毕加索的《格尔尼卡》(Guernica)在马德里属于自己的展馆里展出了十几年，直到雷纳·索菲亚博物馆(Reina Sofía Museum)开放。考虑到现在的《蒙娜丽莎》与其说是艺术品，不如说是一件圣物，还有一个更贴切的例子，那就是瓜达卢佩圣母像，它是墨西哥城最神圣的艺术品，每年有数百万朝圣者对它顶礼膜拜。圣母的崇拜者站在自动人行道上。我可以想象，在乔孔达前面安装同样的自动人行道，平稳地引导游客经过列奥纳多，进入礼品店。
This Paris pavilion, like the Mexican basilica, would be a pilgrimage site for a sort of worship: the worship of fame, and of one’s own proximity to it. Let Samsung or another electronics company install ultra-hi-res cameras around the Gioconda. Let visitors strike a pose on the moving walkways, and then download their cutest selfies with the Leonardo under glass. Perhaps, in exchange for further naming rights, Jeff Koons could have a handbag concession at the exit of the Sheikh Zayed-Louis Vuitton Mona Lisa Pavilion.
In the early 1990s, with the opening of I.M. Pei’s pyramid and the expansion into the Richelieu wing, the museum’s curators actually considered relocating the Mona Lisa. They balked — on the grounds that this mid-tier Leonardo needed to be grounded among her Cinquecento brothers and sisters. That might just have been true a quarter-century ago, when the museum had less than half its current attendance. In a Louvre of 10 million visitors, such a belief isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous. The Mona Lisa is a security hazard, an educational obstacle, and not even a satisfying bucket-list item.
No work of art should make people miserable. Let Paris’s millions of future visitors enjoy the art, the shopping, the sweets and the selfies at the Sheikh Zayed-Louis Vuitton-Samsung Galaxy-Ladurée Macarons Mona Lisa Pavilion. Then let them rediscover the Louvre as a museum.