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Last Luncheon On the Grass

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Source Link:

Year Minted: March 15th, 2020

Artist Description: "Paris, Sunday March the 15th 2020, Undaunted French people decided to show the deadly virus what free will was all about. Many of them defied the mondialist pandemic disease and spent a memorable afternoon in the city's parks. This day is now known as the Last Luncheon on the Grass. Archive D125#547 - Thanks to the NFT Museum of History, New Lutèce.
Animated Collage, Gif, 44,5 Mo, 1000x694pixels"

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

As is the case with so much of Alotta Money’s work, his brooding Last Luncheon on the Grass is an exercise in extreme irony. Alotta Money was an artist deeply interested in humorous juxtapositions, and in the interplay between so-called high and low art. The “high art” inspiration for Last Luncheon is rather easily identifiable, as this piece steals its nymphish and bucolic composition directly from one of the masters, Édouard Manet, whose Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe is the original copy of which Last Luncheon is a facsimile. But come close and be amazed as the subtly animated piece metamorphoses its naked bathers and French dandies into skeletal figures engaged in conversation, ignorant, it seems, of their fates. Minted at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Last Luncheon is about, in Alotta Money’s words, “Undaunted French people [deciding] to show the deadly virus what free will was all about.” Death is itself a kind of irony: It’s the ultimate end for all human beings, no matter how they strive, protect themselves, or vye against it. I suppose you’d call that dark humor. Money captures the sudden and inexplicable shift between life and decay; notice how everything in this piece is decaying, breaking down, becoming odder, drabber, sadder, muted, deceased.

In Manet’s original piece, a naked woman, presumably having remained undressed after a bath in the nearby river, sits for a picnic with two dapper, rather well-dressed men, while behind them an assumedly unobserved woman in a gossamer gown washes herself, all benign and angelic. But in Alotta Money’s reimagining, the theme and context become as dark as the construction, and certainly as dark as the Covid-19-inflected world of existential dread we were all then just coming to understand.

The original Manet piece explores every brushstroke of its depressive and muted color-palette, a strangely dampened and dour set of hues especially when considering how simple, even banal, the piece’s subject is: men in conversation, women bathing, and all having an apparently pleasant afternoon of picnicking along a river. Alotta Money takes the mottled color-scheme of the original and adds details to match it. For example, in Manet’s original, the three central figures are blithely sitting atop a blanket, picnic materials strewn around them, and the forest and river background are much larger, much more present, much more domineering over the rest of the piece. Money takes us in closer, almost claustrophobically so. Manet’s more minute details,  the minutiae of picnic equipment muttered throughout his idyllic setting, have been replaced with tabloid newspapers (which ask “Faut-il Avoir Peur du Coronavirus?” or, in other words, “Should we be afraid of the Coronavirus?”) and random rolls of toilet paper, an ode to early-pandemic purchasing stressors. Upon the naked female’s leg, Money has inked the most onerous of tattoos, one which reads “Live and Let Live.” Into the hand of the black-clothed male, the artist has placed a small bottle of what looks like polish, but which could be drugs or medicine.

Okay, so Alotta Money has already imparted his unique, punkish worldview onto this most placid of Impressionist landscape. And the thing I think I admire most about Alotta Money is his aptitude for one-upping himself, a kind of internal gamesmanship. And as the painting animates towards what I suppose we can call its second stage, we see disparate colors beginning to blur together, becoming wispy like how 70mm film will when it burns out. On a small rowboat in the background, the silhouette of the grim reaper slowly appears. And we’re treated to an impromptu anatomy lesson as the faces of all four humans peel back (or are wiped away) to reveal expressionless skulls underneath. Money’s point is fairly obvious: Yes, we should be afraid of the Coronavirus, and acting otherwise is a deadly proposition.

I was not in France at the outset of the pandemic, but if it had been anything like it was in the United States, then of course there was already a culture war between those fearful of what the pandemic would bring and those, well, willfully ignorant of it? Alotta Money is two-fold in how Last Luncheon criticizes such nonchalance, not just in how it turns an idyllic forest setting into a horrorshow, but how it turns a timeless emblem of French artistic mastery into a thin facade for foolishness. We can see it then as a commentary on all of French society, on its presentation as a bastion of high-minded ideals whereas, in reality, it’s a place of people, people who are flawed, people who do stupid things, who may wear the proper suits of noblemen, who may paint themselves in thoughtful brushstrokes of green and black and grey and brown, but whom no amount of proper appearance can save. When I watch Last Luncheon shift back and forth from its first stage to its second, as it giveth life to its subjects and taketh away, I’m taken aback at the depth and scope of Alotta Money’s social criticism, and I’m haunted with the phantasmic feeling of his ever-burning anger. Can’t you feel the emotion burning from this image like gasoline atop water? As a marker of a certain man’s mindset during a certain time in history, I’ve seen few more successful examples. As itself a primary source of historical significance, I think Last Luncheon justifies itself. As an unforgettable artwork? It’s an Alotta Money. And that, being unforgettable, was kind of his whole thing.


el-geko and Agnosis have reacted to this post.

Alotta respect, alotta love & alotta meaning, Thank you Alex, your work will stand the test of time.

CohentheWriter and el-geko have reacted to this post.