09/30/2012 08:37 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Week In Arts & Culture: 'Piss Christ,' Psy And Mona Lisa's Prequel (PHOTOS)

This week things got hot and heavy on the Arts & Culture page as people were peeved about "Piss Christ," perfected their Psy pony dance and learned that there may have been an early version of the Mona Lisa that looks different from the image we know and love. Read on for more...


Culture reporter Gazelle Emami spent 80 minutes in the studio with Ai Weiwei, China's most controversial artist. Click here to read the extensive interview on China's art scene, Ai's tax case, and the artist's extensive stray cat collection:

"Ai, 55, can come off grumpy: unsmiling and wary-eyed. But he quickly relents to his gentler attributes — a waggish sense of humor, calm speech patterns and a fondness for lost animals. At any given point over the past 12 years, somewhere between 20 and 60 stray cats and dogs have made his studio their home. “We started to say, ‘Oh we can have them!’ Ai laughs with his eyes, as if his decision bemuses him.

This day, a soft white cat named Lei Lei (“come, come” in Chinese) wanders into the room and onto the table for a nap. “He’s never missed one interview. I think he likes the human voice while he sleeps. ‘Lei lei, lei lei,’” Ai calls, whistling softly. Dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans, Ai’s defining features dominate his appearance — a globular belly and stringy beard that hangs low."


In 2010 a Shenandoah Valley resident unknowingly bought Pierre-August Renoir's “Paysage Bords de Seine” at a flea market, for the bargain bin price of seven dollars. At the time, "Renoir Girl, as she asked us to refer to her, was hoping to earn anywhere from $75,000 and $100,000 for the painting, based on an auction house estimate. Her plans for spending the money included a trip to the Louvre Museum with her mother, whose hunch led her to verify the painting's authenticity, she told us.

But now it appears that trip may be delayed: a recent investigation indicates the painting was stolen. A report published Thursday by the Washington Post details the mysterious crime. The saga began nearly 61 years ago, when "Paysage Bords de Seine" was spirited out of the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Post reporter found documentation of the painting at the BMA from 1937 until its theft on November 17, 1951. Questions of who stole it, where it languished for decades and how it would up at a flea market remain.


It’s not even December 2012 yet, and already the world is ending. A man with a slight paunch and a trademark gallop has sparked numerous exhaustive analyses on reputable web sites the world over. Who is 'Psy'? What is Gangnam Style? Is the invisible horse really just a dance prop or is it something more?

But first, some facts.

6 Psy Facts Worth Telling Everyone


Art experts this week are claiming that they have found an early version of Leonardo da Vinci's shyly smiling beauty, Mona Lisa, reports the Daily Mail.

The work, dubbed the Isleworth Mona Lisa, was reportedly discovered by English art collector Hugh Blaker in Isleworth, London shortly before World War I. Though slightly larger than Leonardo's famous portrait, the subject in the Iselworth became famous for its striking resemblance to Lisa del Giocondo, sparking years of debate as to whether Blaker had discovered Mona Lisa's prequel, ABC News reports.

Now, nearly one hundred years later, the not-for-profit Mona Lisa Foundation has announced that it will reveal "historical, comparative and scientific evidence" that will prove that the long-speculated treasure is indeed the handiwork of the 16th century master.


Thursday marked the debut of Andres Serrano's latest show, "Body and Spirit" at Edward Tyler Nahem gallery in New York. On view is "Piss Christ," Serrano's 1987 pièce de résistance that seems to have been causing apoplexy in a number of politicians, religious leaders, and FOX News commenters, who then quickly regained their powers of speech.

On Friday, Rep. Michael Grimm (NY) told FOX News: "I call on President Obama to stand up for America’s values and beliefs and denounce the ‘Piss Christ.'" Gawker was able to sum up the bold request in a headline: "Heathen President Refuses to Condemn Piece of Art From 1987."

Now that we think about it, this was a big week! Check back in Monday for the next wave of arts madness.