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Arts Daily Prompts History

‘Water is itself the obstacle to water’

Loop Water GIF by Living Stills-source
gif by Living Stills

Leonardo da Vinci obsessed with water more than any of his multidisciplinary interests: architecture, science, painting, and sculpture.

For Leonardo da Vinci, the current represented that perfect chaos that separated air from water. In his Book on Waters, he wrote:

Nothing shares a surface with something and something shares a surface with nothingness. And the surface of something is not part of that thing, whence it follows that the surface of nothingness is part of nothingness, whence it follows that a single surface is the limit between two things that are in contact. Since the surface of water is not part of the water, and hence is not part of the air or of other bodies placed between them, what is it then that divides the air from the water?

Below is one of Leonardo’s sketches on the movement of water from 1508. It demonstrates the paradox of water in, around, and again itself.

Leonardo da Vinci water #drawing #sketch #art
Leonardo, da Vinci, 1508-09 (Paris MS. F)

Writes art historian Irving Lavin, Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical Studies at the Institue of Advanced Study:

…water in percussion: that is, water is itself the obstacle to water, and in this case the contrast is between the resulting currents on the surface, under the surface, and surging upward carrying bubbles of entrapped air. The relationship between air and water, both in combination and as analogous media, was also a subject that greatly preoccupied Leonardo and played a critical role in the development of his thought that concerns me here.

The structure of a stream lies within its anti-structure. There’s the unpredictable and disruptive movement of its flow. Yet freshwater slithers over rocks, persisting unperturbed all the way into the mouth of the river.

The chaos of running water seems to be why it works.

Read Leonardo’s Watery Chaos

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Arts Quotes

Leonardo Da Vinci: Thinking with an extra wrinkle in the brain

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Leonardo da Vinci: Mock-up for a flying machine

  No artist contained an extra wrinkle in their brain as big as Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a creative genius who combined the disciplines of both art and science to make something new.

Leonardo’s formula: see, contemplate, emulate, remix, and recast.

His undivided mind drove his imagination which led him toward discovery and innovation. He was also a tinkerer, even a procrastinator. Below are some sketches from his notebooks where he noodled on concepts and ideas.

“Learn how to see.
Realize that everything
connects to everything else.”

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Drawing of bird in flight

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

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Drawing of torso and arms

“He who can Copy can create.”

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Studying a seated man and stream of water

“Learning never exhausts the mind.”

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Study of hands

All images via @ArtistDaVinci

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Quotes

Lessons from a genius

via giphy

Leonardo da Vinci had almost no schooling and could barely read Latin or do long division. His genius was of the type we can understand, even take lessons from. It was on skills we can aspire to improve in ourselves, such as curiosity and intense observation.

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo Da Vinci

We get caught up in SAT scores and grades as gauges of smartness. But curiosity unlocks the keys to innovation and combinatorial creativity.

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Creativity Productivity & Work Psychology Science

The undivided mind

Wonder sits at the intersection of science and art.

Combining the two disciplines is what fueled Leonard Da Vinci’s creative genius. The imagination needs time to daydream and gather string, letting the unconscious connect the dots between disparate things.

Said author Walter Isaacson on the artist in his new book Leonardo da Vinci, “procrastinating like Leonardo requires work: It involves gathering all the possible facts and ideas, and only after that allowing the various ingredients to simmer.”

“I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand. Why shells existed on the tops of mountains along with the imprints of coral and plants and seaweed usually found in the sea. Why the thunder lasts a longer time than that which causes it, and why immediately on its creation the lightning becomes visible to the eye while thunder requires time to travel. How the various circles of water form around the spot which has been struck by a stone, and why a bird sustains itself in the air. These questions and other strange phenomena engage my thought throughout my life.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Curiosity unites both art and science to help realize the improbable.

Image via The Imaginary Foundation

Categories
Arts Creativity

Study of five grotesque heads, 1493

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From the 16th to 18th century, Leonardo da Vinci’s grotesque sketches from the High Renaissance period in 1493 were his most emulated and celebrated works of art. Wrote art historian Kenneth Clark: ‘For three centuries they were [seen as] the most typical of his works. Today we find them disgusting, or at best wearisome.’

The beauty is in its strangeness. Why did we ever lose our taste in monstrosities?

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Arts Books

The imagination of Leonardo da Vinci

“To truly be creative, you have to work across disciplines,” says author Walter Isaacson on Leonardo da Vinci’s creative genius.

After five years of writing and research (‘gathering string’) comes the eponymous book Leonardo da Vinci, due out this October but available for preorder on Amazon.

Two things stuck out at the most in the above conversation:

  1. Even Leonardo da Vinci left projects unfinished. He didn’t have the luxury of a Steve Wozniak to execute all his ideas. Nevertheless, the art of delay means that procrastinators can still be finishers.
  2. Some say the Mona Lisa is really just da Vinci in drag. Leonardo was gay, and Florence, where he resided, was a safe haven for homosexuals.