Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Experience, Experiment, Design" - drawings and notebooks by Leonardo da Vinci

The Victoria and Albert Museum is hosting "Experience, Experiment, Design" , an exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci between now and 7 January 2007. It's actually been open since mid-September, but the reviews all came out just after I left for New England and I'm still catching up on all the new things to see!

A very long time ago I remember seeing some Leonardo da Vinci drawings, complete with mirror writing. I can't remember where it was or what the exhibition was about - but I still have a very vivid recollection of those drawings. Da Vinci's drawings and notebooks are so unlike most others you will ever see that I suspect this exhibition might do the same for a lot of other people.

The exhibition is in one room and has four sections which are:
  1. The Mind's Eye: which focuses on the eye, sight, proportion and proportional relationships (eg the Vitruvian man) and visual and mathematical expressions of the geometry of the natural world
  2. The Lesser and Greater World: investigations of flows and motions - water engineering and the human heart
  3. Making Things: architecture and inventions of entertainment and ingenuity
  4. Force: the force of movement, the force of warfare and the forces of the natural world
It also has a splendid website which comes highly recommended by me. Click on the drawings on each of the pages devoted to the four sections of the exhibition to see what I mean about the drawings.

My only reservation about the website is that I wish there was a clearer message on each page about how to enlarge the truly tiny text! I know how to do it on my keyboard - I'm just wondering whether it's the same on yours....... (increase 'Control' plus '='; reduce 'Control' plus '-')

If you're unable to get to the exhibition you still have a great opportunity to view his notebooks compiled between 1489 and 1505 online here. This gives you access to the sketchbooks contained and cound within the Forster Codices.

Do also take a look at the animated illustrations that have been developed of some of his drawings - piecing together as it were the different drawings of parts which he assembled in trying to develop a coherent whole. A practice which many artists pursue when developing their final work of art.
For those who like playing games - you might like to try The Canal Challenge and see if you can get on the Leaderboard. You can also send an e-card of one of four drawings from the exhibition.

The museum is running a series of events in association with the exhibition, including a BIG DRAW event next weekend. I've just booked my tickets to try silver point and egg tempera!

Adrian Searle gave this exhibition 4 stars in the The Guardian review of the exhibition. For me the accessibility to the exhibition provided by the dedicated microsite must surely push it up to 5 stars!

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