Sunday, November 1, 2009

High Museum - Da Vinci Exhibit

Last Sunday I took advantage of a day off to visit Atlanta's High Museum of Art specifically to see their limited time exhibition, "Leonardo da Vinci - Hand of the Genius", because, well it's da Vinci!

Back in May of 2007, I had the opportunity to visit da Vinci's final home in Amboise, France with Cindy and my mother-in-law. Le Clos Lucé is now a museum and, like High Museum, does not allow video or photography inside the house. It is difficult to describe the feeling of walking through the hallways, bedroom, study and work areas that this master also walked through. To see his work, sketches, engineering drawings, sculptures, paintings, machines and works in progress is to constantly marvel at the man many have called a genius and who, for all intents and purposes, personifies the Renaissance Man. Here is a photo of the exterior (one of many) that I took during that visit.

So of course, when I arrived in Atlanta and read that the High Museum was hosting an exhibition of some of da Vinci's work, well I HAD to go.

I walked about a half mile from my hotel to the MARTA station and within 20 minutes found myself in the arts district of Atlanta. The High (as Atlantans refer to it) is an impressive building with an obviously designed aesthetic sense to make the viewing of works of art as pleasurable as it can be, both inside and out.

Before even entering the museum you can see a larger-than-life statue of a horse based on sketches made by da Vinci. Inside, you find that originally he had planned for the horse to be rearing back on its hind legs, but concluded the cost of supporting the weight of such a large size statue at that angle was prohibitive.

Even on a Sunday afternoon, the exhibit hall was crowded with people who had the same idea that I did. The exhibit features approximately 50 works, including some 20 sketches that sculptures and unfinished works were based on. Some of these have never been on display in the United States previously. I can also say that most of the exhibit that I saw was not part of exhibits I saw at the Louvre or at Le Clos Lucé, and not surprisingly since many of them were labeled as being on loan from the Queen of England.

The exhibit highlights 3 aspects of da Vinci; his work as a sculptor, his work as a student of masters such as his mentor Andrea del Verrocchio and Donatello, and his influence as a mentor himself on students such as Rubens and Rustici. If you're in Atlanta and you have an opportunity to visit the exhibit, I would urge you to do so. Below is a photo montage of the exterior of the High Museum.

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