Saturday, November 08, 2008

Leonardo at The Tech

We visited the Leonardo exhibition at The Tech this afternoon. It is a huge exhibition. They suggest that you allow 2 hours for the tour. We were there for two hours and we rushed through the second half to such an extent that I will go back and do it again. The exhibition starts with Brunelleschi's Dome for the Duomo in Florence. Leonardo was an apprentice in Florence towards the end of its construction and it started his interest in mechanics.

After wandering through many halls of mechanical inventions, we came to the anatomy room where Leonardo takes his knowledge of mechanics and applies it to understanding how the human body works. It was after this that we had to pick up the pace just as the exhibits started to get really interesting. The exhibition then goes into his more cultural side which includes his painting and sculpture.

One thing that I got from the painting displays is that Leonardo's knowledge of both mechanics and anatomy informed his paintings. For example, there is an interesting display on the dynamics of the characters in The Last Supper. There is another display on his studies into understanding faces, expressions and the muscles that are used to form facial expressions. So, the inscrutable expression on Mona Lisa's face is no accident (this is my summize, I did not see a reference to Mona Lisa in the exhibition) .

I highly recommend that you see the Leonardo exhibition if you can, and suggest that you allow several hours to see it all properly. Also, do not spend too much time on the mechanics. It is a necessary introduction to understanding how Leonardo viewed the world but it is also important to see how he applied all this knowledge.

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