Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Phoenix 2015 - Phoenix Art Museum - The Di Vinci Code

At the Phoenix Art Museum, an institution I had not visited before,  I had looked forward to an exhibition of Warhol Portraits. A welcome and unexpected surprise was the rare exhibition of the Codex Leicester, 18 pages of text written in the minute, precise hand of Leonardo Di Vinci. Most of the writing involved his observations of the various properties of water. On some pages he drew diagrams in the margins illustrating his thoughts. The manuscript is written in 16th century Italian and backwards so it can only be deciphered by viewing it in a mirror. It is suspected that a reason for this was that Di Vinci was left handed. Training himself to write in reverse kept his sleeve and hand from dragging through wet ink. This is a problem with which I can relate as my fingers, when writing, sometimes take on a blue or black hue myself being similarly left handed. I have to admit I feel some degree of pride in sharing this trait with the extraordinary Di Vinci.

I found it was not the viewing of the codex itself that thrilled me as much as the realization that I was given the privilege to experience a connection, seeing his writing, with this man. I have had the good fortune to see a portion of the handful (approximately 20) of the artworks attributed to him. When seeing those I appreciated the image and technique. Here I appreciated the mind. I have read that aside from his powerful and curious mind and brilliant artistic eye he also possessed astounding physical strength. He was a human aberration of the most valuable kind.

The exhibition was fleshed out with other artworks which contain water as a central theme. These included two oil paintings by Courbet, as well as two by Monet. One of the Monets is extremely lovely depicting a flower covered arched trellis reflected in the pond it stands next to. There were also a series of photos of Yellowstone Park's Old Faithful geyser by the great nature photographer Ansel Adams. These brought back memories of watching the eruption of the geyser from the snow covered ground on my trip to the amazing geological wonderland.

I learned from the exhibition that, the telescope not being invented until 100 years after his lifetime, Di Vinci thought that the moon was covered with water, the patterns we saw from earth the result of wind driven waves. Proof that even the greatest of minds can make a mistake now and then. After all, nobody's perfect!

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