When Mona Lisa was stolen from it’s Louvre wall in 1911 people queued to stare at the empty space left behind. Supposedly more people came to visit then before, when she could still follow the onlookers with her gaze. The lady of course was found in 1913 and is now very well protected, so we won’t be seeing that particular empty space any time soon.
Earlier this year the Centre Pompidou had nine whole empty rooms on display in Voids, a retrospective. The rooms referred to famous empty spaces from modern art history. Besides small texts on the walls describing the original empty spaces there were also still little objects like power outlets, thermostats, exit signs. At the moment the empty walls are hung with surrealist photography and we will have to experience the void elsewhere. What’s it like to visit an empty space when you intend to? And what’s it like to be caught off guard, like I was when I visited the Pompidou and was confronted with Yves Klein? Back then I was prepared…. but not quite, caught off guard after all.