For a couple months now the husband and I have been trying to revive dating as a regular practice. It’s not the easiest thing to do if you’re at the stage of life where staying home is really, well, kind of fun. But we try. The husband compromises and goes to movies with me. I compromise and go to things that catch his attention while watching TV commercials. It was a commercial for the Diiscover DaVinci exhibit that prompted this particular date. “I want to go to that.” was all he had to say to make me rush back to the half price Groupon I had recently deleted and snatch us some tickets. Finding a way to do it at a discount is almost like a message from God that it’s meant to be, in my eyes.
After a couple weeks wondering when to do it, on the last day of the exhibit, we set out in the morning – because it certainly wouldn’t be crowded then, right? No, wrong. There was a good crowd already in the one room auditorium. We got our wrist bands for all day admittance and started with an overview movie that was being shown on the stage. One of the guided tours that was just finishing was louder than the movie narration (did I mention it was a one room exhibit?) so my eyes were on a different script than my ears – but it was all about DaVinci, so who cares?We spent the rest of our time looking at/reading about the variious machines he invented and ideas he came up with. Mock-ups of his machines were placed around the room and many of them could be touched and operated. I have to admit that Leonardo was quite the thinker and classically odd. He was constantly doodling, drawing pictures of his inventions, many of which were weapons of war. He was hired to make these destructive things but since his heart wasn’t really in it, he would always leave out a critical piece from each drawing. It was his way of patenting his work. Even more amazing, since he was left handed and didn’t like to drag his hand through the ink when writing left to right, he learned to write in mirror image, from right to left. What a guy.
Almost everyone knows of DaVinci because of his paintings, especially the Mona Lisa. He studied his subjects mathematically to get proportions right and he was fascinated by light I loved one story about his life as a painter. He was hired to paint a large fresco glorifying a particular battle for some important leader – and was paid in advance. This allowed him to paint his own impression of the battle, showing it’s horrific side and kind of unsettling everyone who came to see it. The museum conveniently “lost” this painting by building a wall in front of it. It was rediscovered hundreds of years later.
Da Vinci was much more than just an artist. He thought of basic stuff we use in our everyday lives, like ball bearings and gears. He came up with the non reversible gear that enables musicians to tune their guitars and string instruments. He was fascinated with flying (which didn’t exist for humans back then) and invented the inclinemeter so wings could be kept level with the horizon. Computers, gyroscopes and lasers do it today. I could go on, but you get the idea. He was a genius and probably spent way too much time thinking. A lot of his ideas were never able to be implemented because they were ahead of their time and there was no way to make them. But interestingly, he was quite appreciated – so much so that the king of France finally brought him to court and supported him for a good portion of his life. For the king, he made a robotic lion, operated by a man inside, that would rear up and open it’s mouth menacingly. Birds and flowers would pour out of the lion’s mouth, completing the performance. The king must have had some fun parties.
Here are some of my favorite DaVinci quotes from the audio tour:
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
“Art is never finished only abandoned.”
“There are three classes of people, those who see, those who see when shown, and those who do not see.”
“Learning never exhausts the mind.”
“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
“Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.”
“He who thinks little errs much.”
“Nature never breaks her own laws.”
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
This exhibit might come to a city near you in the future and I suggest you might find it as interesting as I did.