| Wednesday, November 30, 2005
| LET US TALK ABOUT MASTER LEONARDO DA VINCI
|(Now that the book Da Vinci Code, has already subsided a little bit, I can now dwell and give some important info about Master Leonardo Da Vinci.)
THE LEONARDO WAVE
Leonardo was born April 15,1452 and died on May 2, 1519 --he has been the subject of wave after wave of scholarly attention and popular facination. Sometimes the speculation, mystery and controversy that continue to surround his life and legend cause those waves to crest. But in the last ten years the waves have been swept into a veritable tsunami of excitement. Here are just a few of the peaks:
1994: Bill Gates pays US$30.8 million for eighteen pages of Leonardo's notebooks.
1995 - 1996: Ten Volume comic book: Chiaroscuro: The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci, publihed in the Vertigo line of DC Comics.
1996: Shawn Colvin album: A Few Small Repairs released: includes a song entitled: "You and the Mona Lisa".
1997: On a Star Trek: Voyager episode, John Rhys-Davies gueststars as a holographic Leonardo, helping Captain Janeway overcome several nasty obstacles.
1998: How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci is released and appears on several best seller lists.
1999: Spectacular restoration of Leonardo's Last Supper completed after twenty two yeas of meticulous labor.
1999: Twenty-four-foot-tall bronze Leonardo Horse, evisioned by Charles Dent and executed by Nina Akamu, is unveiled in Milan (exactly five hundred years to the day that the original clay model was destroyed by invading French troops).Its twin is dedicated at the Frederk Meijer Gardens and Sculpture in Grnad Rapids, Michigan, as a tribute to Leonardo spirit.
Artist Vebjorn Sand's exquisite Leonardo bridge linking Norway and Sweden is dedicated by Queen Sonja of Norway. Sand proposes a plan to build a Leonardo bridge on every continent as a symbol of our love of beauty and our links to one another.
Italian one-euro coin appears with the figure from Leonardo's Vitruvian Man on the back.
2002 - 2003: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City sponsors unprecedented and wildly popular exhibition of Leonardo's drawings.
2003: Mary Zimmerman's paly The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci packs the house at New Yorks' Second Stage theatre.
2003: Leonardo goes Hollywood again: How to Think Like Leoanrdo Da Vinci is featured in the opening scene of The Italian Job.
2003: Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code debuts and proceeds to smash all sales records for a novel.
2004: Oxford Unviersity Press release Professor Martin Kemp's superb Leonardo: A Very Short Introduction.
2005: The Da Vinci Center of Science and Technology opens in Allentown, Pensylvania.
2006: "The Universal Leonardo", a simultaneous global exhibition celebrating Leonardo's genius, coordinated by Professor Martin Kemp, begins.
THE QUESTION OF LEONARDO'S SEXUALITY
Leonardo's sexuality may offer a clue to his extraordinary ability to express the feminine principle in his work. The Da Vinci Code, although a work of fiction, manages even in its contradictions to convey some of the mystery surrounding this aspect of Leonardo's life. In one place it refers to him as a "Flambouyant Homosexual".
We know he never married, and no one has yet claimed to have found an heir or a bloodline going back to the Masetro. Was he, as many have supposed, a homosexual? When Leonardo was twenty-four, a charge of sodomy was brought against him and a few of his friends by an anonymous accuser.But it was probably an attempt at slander aimed at one of the friends, and since it was unsupported by any evidence, all were acquitted.
It's also true that later in life Leonardo was often surrounded by beautiful young men, but the writings of those young men suggest that he was more of a father figure than anything else. As his closest disciple, Francesco Melzi (to whome Leonardo left his estate), comments: "To me he was like the best of fathers".
But maybe he was a bisexual? Or perhaps he was celibate and, as Freud suggested, "transmuted his passion into inquisitiveness." Did he, as some suggested, have a love affair with the female monarch of Mantua, Isabella d'Este? Her writings suggests that she with love with him.
Like many of his subjects, Leonardo possessed a mysterious blend of male and female characteristics. Many contend that the Mona Lisa is, among its manifold meanings, a disguised Leonardo self-portrait.
Leonardo does'nt fit neatly into our contemporary categories of gay or straight, masculine or feminine. INstead, he challenges us to seek a new way of thinking about the male and female principles and how to achieve balance between them. He puts me in mind of tantric yoga, in which masculine and feminine unite to become something divine that transcends gender.
* In his "Codex on the Flight of the Birds", he recorded minutiae about the movements of featehrs and wings in flight that could not be confirmed or fully appreciated until the development of slow-motion moving pictures over four centuries later.
* Mnay of Leonardo's anatomical drawings are uncannly accurate and rival modern X-rays. He was the first to accuraretly portray the child in the womb, the first to make casts of the brain and the ventricles of the heart, and a pioneer of comparative anatomy. He also noted that arrteriosclerosis cause premature death and could be prevented by moderate exercise and improved diet.
* He designed and may have built a telescope. (His notebook jotting read: "make glasses to see the moon enlarged")
* His aerial perspective maps of Imola and other cities are works of incredible scope and perspection.
* His art changed the way we see the world. His Mona Lisa is humanity's most familiar and most imitated work of art, and his Last Supper may be the greatest painting ever created.
* Forty years before Copernicus he noted (in capital letters, for emphasis)"IL SOLE NO SI MUOVE" (The sun never move).
* He was the first to describe the phenomenom of soil erosion and the first to describe the system of leaf arrangement in plants.
* He was the first to descrine, in terms that are still used today in the physics classroom, that the angle of incidence is always equal to the angle of relfection.
* He designed a photometer to measure the intensity of light, which prefigured by three hudnred years the one invented by Benjamin Rumford.
* He created designs for the prarachute, extended ladder, ball bearing, diving bell, snorkel, gearshift, olive oil press, scissors, adjustable monkey wrench, automated loom, hydraulic jack, canal lock, and many more amazing inventions.
Leonardo's actual achievements are without parallel. But, because of his seemingly superhuman abilities and what Professor Kemp refers to as the "compelling power of absent evidence", he is sometimes credited with achievements for which there is very little actual basis. Most prominent among these are the following:
* The creation of the Shroud of Turin (an intriguing idea, but highly speculative).
* The design of the Stradivarius violin (Leonardo did design and build a number of wonderful instruments, but this probably was'nt one of them).
* The invention of the bicycle (the drawing in his notebook is a forgery).
* The design of the helicopter (Leonardo's helical screw hints at the principle that allows a helicopter to fly, but unlike his parachute or glider, it does'nt accurately prefigure the real invention)
(Source:from the book: DA VINCI DECODED by: Michael J. Gelb)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 11:20 AM