When the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911, it was twenty-four hours before anyone knew it was missing. Afterward, thousands of people flocked to see the empty space where it had once hung, many of them having never seen the painting in the first place. In Stealing the Mona Lisa, Darien Leader takes the intriguing story of the theft of the Mona Lisa and the public's reaction to it as a starting point to explore the psychology of looking at visual art.
What do we hope to see in paintings, and what do they hide from us? Why should some artists feel compelled to live lives that are more colorful than their works? And why did the police bungle their long investigation into the theft of Leonardo's masterpiece? Leader combines anecdote, observation, and analysis with examples taken from classical and contemporary art to create a surprising and fearless interrogation of what we see in art.