Archive for Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture exhibition at the Getty

Da Vinci Getty sketch

Okay, the first thing you need to know about this current exhibit at the Getty Center (the one high on the hill) is that you will not see any sculptures actually made by or attributed to the famous 15th century Italian artist, inventor and creator, Leonardo da Vinci.

Rather, this impressive exhibition places a special focus on inspiration and invention.

Born April 15, 1452, Anchiano, near Vinci, Republic of Florence [now in Italy], the son of a landowner and a peasant, Leonardo da Vinci received training in painting, sculpture, and mechanical arts as an apprentice to Andrea del Verrocchio. He died May 2, 1519, Cloux [now Clos-Lucé], France.

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath, that is to say he was a person with superior intelligence whose expertise spanned a significant number of different subject areas. His vast breadth of interests and talents included: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance man, a man whose unquenchable curiosity was equaled only by his powers of invention.

Da Vinci was an apprentice in the studio of Verrocchio where sculpture, as well as painting, was an everyday activity. Records show that he worked as a sculptor.

While there exists ample evidence, in historical accounts as well as in the artist”™s letters and notebooks, that da Vinci created works of sculpture and received several monumental commissions, there are no surviving works that can be definitively attributed to him. Hence nowhere can you see a large work of sculpture that has been positively identified as being the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

Considering it is believed that the Vatican keeps a vast majority of da Vinci”™s treasures under lock and key, naturally it is always exciting when we can catch a glimpse of some of this great man”™s great works, even just sketches or plans of sculptures, if not the sculptures themselves.

When you first enter the West Pavilion of The Getty Museum, you are confronted by a massive image of a prancing horse representing Il Cavallo, the huge 24-foot bronze equine statue Leonardo da Vinci planned but never saw to its completion. Commissioned in 1482 by Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, in honor of his father Francesco, the massive 70-ton bronze monument took Leonardo seventeen years of research and planning. When the full-scale clay model was finally ready to be cast in a single operation in 1499, all the necessary bronze was taken to make cannons for an imminent war against the King of France.

Da Vinci’s plan for the largest equestrian statue in the world, if completed, would have probably been his greatest legacy, possibly more famous than his painting The Last Supper or any of his other artistic creations.

Nevertheless, this exhibition includes various drawings by the artist of his inventions and planning (many of which are borrowed from the collection of Queen Elizabeth II) as well as one of his paintings, of which there are fewer than a dozen in the world. The drawings highlight his working method of sketching ideas and notes for his artistic compositions and inventive devices, which, sadly, have not survived.

Da Vinci Getty bronzes

Above all, this exhibition is a showcase for the recent restoration of three monumental bronze statues from 1511 by da VinciӪs younger colleague, Giovan Francesco Rustici. Removed for conservation from the fa̤ade of the Baptistery in Florence several years ago, these magnificent pieces had never been seen outside of the city until their display late last year at AtlantaӪs High Museum of Art.

The trio of giant bronze statues, depicting John the Baptist, a Pharisee and a Levite, are impressive indeed, with their expressive gazes, gestures and draped clothing.

Leonardo and Rustici worked closely together and Rustici was immersed in Leonardo’s studio practice. Because of their collaborations and similar aesthetic, Rustici’s work is considered the best echo of Leonardo’s lost activity as a sculptor.

The depiction of the three elegant and somber figures, the variety of their drapery and their anatomical realism give credence to an opinion related by Giorgio Vasari that “Leonardo worked at the group with his own hand, or that he at the least assisted Rustici with counsel and good judgment.”

In the absence of any securely attributed sculptures by Leonardo himself, these works, along with his surviving drawings, give us a glimpse of Leonardo’s sculptural accomplishments.  This exhibition is worth seeing for the trio of monumental bronzes alone, even if they are not by the legendary artist himself.

Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture: Inspiration and Invention is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. The J. Paul Getty Museum is also grateful for the support of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the Italian Consulate General, Los Angeles.

The exhibition runs until June 20th 2010


The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles


Tuesday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Closed Mondays and on January 1, July 4 (Independence Day), Thanksgiving, and December 25 (Christmas Day).

Admission to the Getty Center and to all exhibitions is FREE“”no tickets or reservations are required for general admission.

Public Transportation
Get to the Getty Center via public transport! The Getty Center is served by Metro Rapid Line 761, which stops at the main gate on Sepulveda Boulevard. To find the route that is best for you, call (800) COMMUTE or use the Trip Planner – the Web site of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Parking is $15 per car. Entry is FREE after 5:00 p.m. for the Getty Center’s evening hours on Saturdays (when they are open until 9:00 p.m.), as well as for all evening public programming, including music, film, lectures, and other special programs held after 5:00 p.m.

Parking reservations are neither required nor accepted. For more parking information, see hours, directions, parking.
and frequently asked questions.

Review by Pauline Adamek

A 16th Century Angel meets a 21st C one – da Vinci plus Viola – Italian Cultural Institute

Bill Viola -- The Last Angel

The Italian Cultural Institute is offering a rare opportunity to view of the exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci”™s controversial drawing, “Angel in the Flesh,” and his drawings from “Codex Atlanticus” alongside an installation of “The Last Angel,” a stunning contemporary video work by Bill Viola.

On Tuesday renowned artist Bill Viola and Carlo Pedretti, UCLA Professor Emeritus and one of the world”™s most prominent Leonardo scholars, unveiled the exhibition which will run for only two weeks at the Italian Cultural Institute, located in Westwood.

The Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece “Angel in the Flesh” is making a historical appearance alongside video work of Bill Viola. A controversial work, “Angel in the Flesh” depicts a clearly androgynous figure. This rare drawing by da Vinci will not be shown anywhere else in the Americas.

Leonardo da Vinci -- "Angel in the Flesh" (c. 1513)

Discovered in 1990, Leonardo da Vinci”™s controversial drawing, “Angel in the Flesh” (c. 1513-1515), appears in its unique splendor at the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles. It is a truly historical moment as this is the first time on the West coast that “Angel in the Flesh” (formerly in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle) will be shown before it returns to Europe.

Also part of the two-week exhibition is Leonardo”™s “Theatre Sheet” (c.1506- 1508, from the “Codex Atlanticus”), which includes its two fragments cut out in the late sixteenth century, now next to each other at last. “Theatre Sheet” shows Leonardo as a master in theatrical arts, set design and music.

While the da Vinci pieces are on the small and fuzzy side, his “Angel in the Flesh” is truly spooky, with its lunatic gaze and large, erect phallus & pendulous testes.

Installed alongside Leonardo”™s works at the Italian Cultural Institute will be “The Last Angel,” a work featuring slow-motion imagery of an angelic figure in water by celebrated multimedia artist Bill Viola, who is also part of MOCA”™s new 30th Anniversary exhibition.

Bill Viola”™s elegant video installation, projected lengthways on a large plasma screen, is a ten-minute meditation on spirituality. The cryptic and hypnotic imagery depicts the lazy flow of water at the top of the frame, much like clouds scudding across the sky. While we are being mesmerized by this slow-motion imagery, eventually some bubbles start to collect at the bottom of the screen. In the final moments of this looped video, a fully-clothed angel emerges, plunging upwards through the shadowy underwater realm. It is a poetic experience.

This exhibition concludes the 9th Italian Language Week dedicated to Art, Science and Techonology, placed under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic of Italy and is organized in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Los Angeles.

This unique and marvelous exhibition is FREE and open to the public
December 3-12, 2009
10AM-6PM daily.

Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles

1023 Hilgard Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel. (310) 443-3250
Email: [email protected]

Review by Pauline Adamek