Leonardo Live!

by Vicky on March 4, 2012

Last Sunday evening Stuart and I drove down to the Seattle Center for a special showing of Leonardo Live sponsored by the Seattle International Film Festival.

It’s a filmed tour of the sold-out exhibit, Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan, at the National Gallery in London, which brought together “the most complete gathering of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held.”

Seeing these masterworks on a big screen was a revelation. 

Aside from noticing details that I had never seen in reproductions, it was amazing to see the actual sizes of these works.  Their impact was visceral.  I was struck by the 3-D quality of the paintings and the impression of living movement captured in an instant.

Of course, nothing could compare to the physicality of standing in the presence of these paintings and drawings, but the filmed tour offered a taste of what that experience would have been like.  It was definitely worth putting up with the Olympics-style commentary and unscripted and mostly inane comments by various “experts.”

Dame Fiona Shaw, Creative Director of the Royal Opera House, did offer an unusually enlightening perspective.  She focused on Leonardo’s dramatic sense:

Theatre and religion…function from expectation–it’s a sort of a silence that you get, not in death, but in the moment somebody arrives in a door.

Several of Leonardo’s portraits give one the sense of glimpsing the subject at a doorway or in a moment’s glance across a crowded room.  Instead of showing a static surface, Leonardo somehow creates an illusion that lets us feel something of the personality and the physical presence as well as the hidden depths of these very real people.

Leonardo Live

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