On April 12th the American singer Will.i.am (one of the founding members of the Black Eyed Peas) released this music video reinterpreting his song “Mona Lisa Smile” from his album #Willpower. Set in the Louvre, it features the singer Nicole Scherzinger as La Jaconde, and Will.i.am in over a dozen of the museum’s most famous paintings. How many can you identify?
And for those of you who know the Louvre well, you’ll quickly realize the wall with the Mona Lisa on it (which should be in Salle 6), is actually superimposed into another gallery of paintings with red walls. Can you guess which one? (hint: look at the ceiling)
This video isn’t just a one-off gimmick by the singer, he’s actually been planning this for several years. According to the Louvre website:
“This remarkable and unprecedented collaboration is the fruit of many years of work. In 2010, the Louvre welcomed a production team from New York to film a documentary that was part of the “Visionaries” series. This episode was devoted to will.i.am and used to launch Oprah Winfrey’s TV channel, OWN. Deeply inspired by his visit to the world’s largest museum, will.i.am tapped into the experience to create a video for the song “Mona Lisa Smile.” But the creative juices didn’t stop there: the artist sought to perpetuate, and especially share with others, his great appreciation for the museum by producing a documentary on the newly renovated rooms of the Department of Decorative Arts and the surrounding galleries.”
After this Will.i.am was inspired to film a 12-minute documentary called “Will.i.am at the Louvre”, a sort of “Highlights of the Louvre” tour with the editor of Wired UK and the curator of the Decorative Arts department (where he falls in love with an elaborate 18th-century clock). This is a great little video to watch if you’re hesitant to visit the Louvre, because it shows how it’s so much more than just paintings and the Mona Lisa.
The funniest quote is when he’s in the stunning (and highly gilded) Napoléon III Apartments, and his guide infers that it must look like the interior of many hip-hop moguls houses, and Will.i.am responds, “Oh no, we don’t do it like this. They put the gold in their teeth.” But generally it’s a great documentary about how art is still important to today’s culture. You’ll also learn the meaning of the fabulous French phrase, l’esprit de l’escalier.
You can follow Will.i.am’s Louvre tour yourself here.