Leonardo Da Vinci at The National Gallery London

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

Leonardo Da Vinci at The National Gallery London

Postby jasperjoffe » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:53 pm

This, despite the crowds and queues, is a must see show, there are paintings that you will probably never get to Warsaw or someplace to see. The magical da vinci is better on idealised beauty, pretty girls and women, than on supernatural beauty, jesus and co. Somehow doing a portrait of a lady reigned him to create paintings that are tantalisingly alive, hushed in their perfect blending and just about to turn their heads. He could paint roughly with the same technique when he was 12, like learning latin or greek or calculus, people of his time were more equipped with standard skills, what many may admire about Da Vinci is what most artists of his time had: the ability to draw, blend, and colour neatly. So what is the extra quality, the x factor, that at times leaves us exhilarated 500 years later, not sure really, he seems to have been pretty clever at other stuff, not got many paintings done, perhaps he looked harder, or felt more. I am not helping much, of course the standard excuse is you need to look yourself. Book 10 years in advance, elbow your way past the grannies, and drink in the beauty. It's beauty, how it works still seems like magic.
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Re: Leonardo Da Vinci at The National Gallery London

Postby CAP » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:42 am

Still, I think the best book on Da Vinci - for whose who want more, following the show - is Kenneth Clark's Leonardo da Vinci, with revision and introduction by Martin Kemp, republished by Penguin Books in 1988. It's probably been reprinted since. It was first published back in 1939, and shows why Clark rose so rapidly through the ranks of British art historians. It takes in all apsects of Leo's work and demonstrates just what a weird guy he really was. Far more original, in the true sense, than any of his contemporaries, which is saying something, when you think he actually knew Michelangelo and Raphael.

He got around, in ways they didn't. He had street smarts in ways they never had time for. Whole years of his calender were devoted to designing the famous medieval 'Masques' - or street pageants, in Milan, I think it was (certainly not Florence). Leo had 'theatrical flair! He was hip. He advised The Medicis against displaying Michelangelo's David in such a prominent position in Florence, knowing full well what the public reception to such seeming pagan provocation would be (homo stuff, basically). Even though he was bent, he wasn't so blind to homo-eroticism as to assume the general public would go along with a push to the supposed 'alla antica'. And he was right! The crowd stoned and smashed Mick's darling David, offended at having the Medici's pagan (i.e. degenerate) tastes foisted on the good city. Florentines were righteous. The Medicis had to move it away and repair it.

Good for publicity, bad for politics.

Anyway Leo still thought of art as a branch of science, in ways it's hard for us to understand now. So much of his effort went into research, trying to visualise 'forces' 'motion' 'ideals'. No wonder he got bored with finishing the bloody things. It was all technique at a certain point, and that was largely a question of patience or apprentices, of which he cared for neither.

:D
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Re: Leonardo Da Vinci at The National Gallery London

Postby jasperjoffe » Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:37 pm

will take a look even though I find books about art (unless just pictures) boring usually.
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Re: Leonardo Da Vinci at The National Gallery London

Postby CAP » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:08 am

Old Kenny is also refreshingly readable!

:)
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