Saturday, February 15, 2014

DaVinci's "Visi Monstruosi"

"There has never been an artist who was more fittingly , and without qualification, described as a genius. The shadow of a great genius is a peculiar thing...Leonardo's was a chilling shadow, too deep, too dark, too overpowering." ~Sister Wendy Beckett~ from Sister Wendy's Story of Painting

   Leonardo DaVinci's sublime ethereal genius has long fascinated me. But of all his magical conjurings...his brilliant art techniques...his mechanical workings, I am most enamored with his ongoing sketchbook studies. These visualizations + his methodical thought processes offer up his most personal meanderings...his questions of life...his pondering of possibilities...his imaginativenesses of what if! But to me some of his show stoppers are his wacky "grotesque" head studies!
DaVinci-3 Grotesque Heads in Profile (detail from a larger sheet)
   Why...you ask. Leonardo's "whimsical" caricatures are so fascinating to me because they demonstrate a satirical "Lowbrow" injection into the staunch conservatism of how we view Renaissance art. He had a curiosity about all things natural, and what could be more natural than the antithesis of "beauty". Despite his outward projection of portrait perfections like the Mona Lisa, Lady with an Ermine, or St. John the Baptist...where he catered to an obvious pursuit of aesthetic "beauty", he also appreciated that perfection is not always as interesting as "imperfection".
DaVinci-Visi Monstruosi Woman's Profile
   The age was awash in monstrous imagery...particularly the North (Netherlands) where Hieronymus Bosch put the sharpest spin on fantastical demons and the muck ridden populace. His shapely pious visions would have been polarized to DaVinci's more secular studies.Bosch's visions derived from his deeply religious inclinations was his personalized sermons...visual translations of biblical sermons and folklore. Like DaVinci, the meanings of Bosch's visual metaphors have been lost through the ages. The pair were contemporaries but I have never heard of them crossing paths. Ha! What a dazzling collaboration that would have been!!
Bosch- Studies of Monsters (front & back of same sheet)
   On a personal note, both of these artist's sketches have impacted my own work. I am profoundly inspired by both artists' counterbalanced perspectives...their echoing visions penetrate and resonate deep inside my psyche. Their surreal objectivity...their juxtaposed aesthetics...their perverse cognitive explorations, draw me...draw these "Monstruosi" in...make me ponder over good/evil...happy/sad...real/unreal.
Marx Myth- I Don't Know


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