June 19, 2016
“From the first he is obsessed by vital force and finds it expressed in plants and creatures; the, as his scientific researches develop he learns the vast power of natural forces and he pursues science as a means by which these forces can be harnessed for human advantage. The further he penetrates the more he becomes aware of man’s impotence; his studies of geology show that the earth has undergone cataclysmic upheavals of which ordinary earthquakes are but faint and distant echoes; his studies of embryology point to a central problem of creation apparently insoluble by science. The intellect is no longer supreme, and human beings cease to be the centre of nature; so they gradually fade from his imagination, or when they appear, as St. Anne or St. John, they are human no longer but symbols of force and mystery, messengers from a world which Leonardo da Vinci, the disciple of experience, has not explored though he has earned the right to proclaim its existence. La natura e’ piena d’infinite ragioni che non furono mai in esperienza.” ~ K. Clark

June 19, 2016

“They correspond with his own deepest belief: that the destructive forces of nature were like a reservoir, dammed up by a thin, unsteady wall, which at any moment might burst, and sweep away the pretentious homunculi who had dared to maintain that man was the measure of all things. […] Leonardo glories in the triumph of natural forces and dwells with gusto on every detail of destruction. […] They are so far from the classical tradition that our first term of comparison might be one of the great Chinese paintings of cloud and storm.” ~ K. Clark


June 19, 2016

“From his earliest work he had felt that the only possible background to a picture was a range of fantastic mountain peaks. […] To him landscape seems to have represented the wildness of nature, the vast, untamed background of human life; so the resemblance of his mountains to the craggy precipices of Chinese painting is no accident, for the Chinese artist also wished to symbolize the contrast between wild nature and busy organized society. Yet between Leonardo and the Chinese there is also a profound difference. To the Chinese a mountain landscape was chiefly a symbol, an ideograph of solitude and communion with nature, expressed in the most correct and elegant forms which the artist could command. To Leonardo a landscape, like a human being, was part of a vast machine, to be understood part by part and, if possible, in the whole. Rocks were not simply decorative silhouettes. They were part of the earth’s bones, with an anatomy of their own, caused by some remote seismic upheaval. Clouds were not random curls of the brush, drawn by some celestial artist, but were the congregation of tiny drops formed from the evaporation of the sea, and soon would pour back their rain into the rivers. Thus, Leonardo’s landscapes, however wildly romantic his choice of subject matter, never take on the slightly artificial appearance of the Chinese.” ~ K. Clark


June 19, 2016

“[…] the anti-classical, we might say the un-Mediterranean, nature of Leonardo. […] In its essence Mona Lisa’s smile is a gothic smile. […] The picture is so full of Leonardo’s demon that we forget to think of it as a portrait.” ~ K. Clark


June 19, 2016

“In order that the prosperity of the body, [he says] shall not harm that of the spirit the painter must be solitary, especially when he is intent on those speculations and considerations, which if they are kept continually before the eyes give the memory the opportunity of mastering them. For if you are alone you are completely yourself but if you are accompanied by a single companion you are only half yourself.” ~ Leonardo


June 19, 2016

“Mathematicae non sunt verae scientiae” ~ Pico della Mirandola


June 19, 2016

“Even the greatest intellect draws part of its strength from a dark centre of animal vitality” ~ K. Clark


June 19, 2016

“The Mona Lisa has been irreverently described as ‘the cat that’s eaten the canary: which expresses well enough the smile of one who has attained complete possession of what she loved, and is enjoying the process of absorption. […] Attributes of grace, the smile and the turning movement, become extremely sinister, because they are now indistinguishable from attributes of continuous energy; and these, being beyond human reason, are felt as hostile to human security. Yet just as Leonardo, in his intellectual pursuit of natural forces, hung on with a kind of inspired tenacity, so in the St. John we feel him pressing closer round the form, penetrating further and further into the mystery, till at last he seems to become a part of it, so that, like his contemporaries, we no longer think of him as a scientist, a seeker for measurable truths, but as a magician, a man who, from his close familiarity with the processes of nature, has learnt a disturbing secret of creation. […] It has a quality of inexaustible suggestion only possible in the work of a man to whom the subtlety of natural appearances was perfectly familiar.” ~ K. Clark


May 11, 2016

“breakthroughs are born out of unusual circumstances”


April 19, 2016

“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove” ~ Saint-Exupery


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.