Friday, March 11, 2011

40 Days of Artists: Leonardo Da Vinci

Sometimes I wonder how Da Vinci had time to live, or if he had a social life of any kind after all his work drawing, painting, sculpting, studying anatomy, studying mathematics, inventing things, designing architecture, and maybe eating and sleeping every once in a while.

Another master of the Italian renaissance, Da Vinci was one of the great multitaskers to have ever lived. He did everything as scientifically as possible. There seemed to be a formula for everything, and especially in his studies of anatomy he would demonstrate the schematics of how proportions of the human body worked. There are some doctors today that refer to his drawings and can identify information that Da Vinci recorded that is still relevant to modern medicine. Certain parts have informed surgeons in their procedures.

He is widely considered one of the greatest painters of his time, if not the greatest. His Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre behind bulletproof glass, on its own wall, inside a room named after the painting. It is perhaps the most famous painting in the world. What makes it so famous and compelling is not only the mysterious smirk on her face, but the manner in which Da Vinci painted it. Using a technique called sfumato, the brush strokes seem to disappear in her portrait as the light and shadow appear to blend into each other to create a soft focus. Giorgio Vasari described this handling of the paint, saying that it would make even "the most confident master... despair and lose heart."

Leonardo Da Vinci
La Scapigliata
oil on panel
27x21 cm
c. 1508

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