A Little Lift From Leonardo

There are some developments in the School of Visual Arts unrest. I’ve been privy to some very distressing information that I will share in due time, I promise. But for now, if it’s all right with everyone, I’d like to take a temporary breather from this rather unpleasant situation. From a personal standpoint, avoiding the topic aids me in my “beast battle”. Trying not to get mentally bogged down in worries and tension, you see. From a blogging standpoint, avoiding it prevents Museworthy from morphing into a grievance parade, beset with negativity. Instead, my beloved blog can reclaim its sensitive soul and return to its primary purpose – it’s joy, its inspiration, its very reason for being – ART.

Let’s do a little da Vinci, shall we? After a miserable few days of suffering due to the destructive actions of a small, spiteful, myopic, mean-spirited person of no accomplishment, I thought it was only fitting to showcase an individual who is the complete opposite. In other words, a productive, forward-thinking person, a brilliant visionary, an innovator, a person of staggering intellectual and artistic gifts, a person with a profound sense of humanity, compassion, and love for his fellow man. A person who sought to promote positive change in the world. Yay for Leonardo!

According to Giorgio Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci was a man of “outstanding physical beauty”, “infinite grace”, “great strength and generosity”, “regal spirit and tremendous breadth of mind”. (Hmm . . . sounds just like the new model coordinator at SVA . . . NOT!!!)

Check out this exquisite portrait drawing by Leonardo. It’s called La Scapigliata. When I looked up the translation, I discovered that it means “disheveled hair”. Love it! However, with all due respect to the great Leonardo and his pretty model, I am the queen of disheveled hair. That’s right. Me! The main mophead. The top in tousled tresses. If da Vinci considered this to be “disheveled” hair, imagine what he would have done with my windswept shag!

leonardo_da_vinci_female_head_la_scapigliata

Like so much of the art from the 15th and 16th centuries, many details are unknown. Was this a preliminary sketch for a painting? If so, which one? And who was model? Speculations abound, but we’ll never know for sure. There is even some dispute over this drawing’s attribution to Leonardo. Here on Museworthy, I say we give it to the guy. I’m not an art history cop. Just an admirer 🙂

While there are countless reasons to respect and admire the great Leonardo da Vinci, one of my personal favorites was his vegetarianism. His love of animals was intrinsic to both his character and his overall view of the world. Da Vinci believed deeply that humans share the earth with our “fellow mortals” and ethically disapproved of any suffering inflicted upon them at human hands. So throughout his 67 years he rejected the consumption of all animal flesh. Vasari even told of how da Vinci would purchase caged birds for sale, only to set them free in the countryside, to give them back their liberty, to allow them their natural right to live their lives on their own terms. And isn’t that all any of us wants?

7 thoughts on “A Little Lift From Leonardo

  1. ColdSilverMoon says:

    Leonardo is a master for a reason – what a superb drawing. I like the almost “unfinished” look of it – almost like she’s materilaizing from some nebulous ether. Sort of reminds me of Michalangelo’s 12 Apostles in the Academy leading up to David – it’s like they’re morphing out of the marble. Thank you for sharing – I’m glad this provided a diversion from your current woes.

    I spoke with a student at SVA last night who was unhappy with the model situation of late…we may have heard the same things.

    • artmodel says:

      ColdSilverMoon,

      I had a hunch you would appreciate this Leonardo post because I know you are attracted to this kind of aesthetic. When masterful technique meets with visual beauty, you are a happy man. You have quality, discriminating tastes and I love that you share them on Museworthy.

      We’re probably hearing many of the same things regarding SVA, only my information did not come from students. It’s a terrible shame that such a fine art school is going through this turmoil in an area so essential to its art education – its life models.

      Thanks for your comments, as always.

      Claudia

  2. Jeff says:

    Leonardo was a rare individual, no doubt. I think you’re hiding behind him, though. 🙂

    I am not going to press for details. I don’t care about the details, but I do care that it seems to be eating at you more than it should. I really hope you’re not letting this shit get you down as much as it seems from your posting. Although most people are not petty or vindictive unless they have good reason, some people are, and if you let it get to you, you only hurt yourself. I know – I internalize it greatly when someone is petty or mean with no reason. But you can’t control it and it doesn’t help to let it fester.

    This lady’s got some deep-seated issue that it would take a handful of Park Avenue shrinks to pull it out of her. She’s probably not even fully conscious of what she’s doing.

    I mean, do you really care what she thinks, outside of the impact it has on your ability to work? In the long run, petty people don’t do well. People who treat other people badly without reason get their comeuppance. I guarantee you that you have enough supporters, friends and admirers that you will eventually have the laugh last. In the meantime, don’t let it gnaw at you.

    You take what you do seriously. You’re great at it. You’re reliable, you’re knowledgeable about art. You’re beautiful, and you’ve inspired countless artists, right? So fuck her. Seriously. You’re better than her, and you know it.

    • artmodel says:

      Jeff,

      You are straightest of straight-shooters! That’s what I love about you 🙂 Always telling it like it is.

      I can’t dispute anything you said in your comments. I do hope you’re right, though, about abusive, insolent people getting their comeuppance. This particular person really deserves it, given all the grief and stress she’s causing.

      Thanks for that last paragraph! Wow. That’s a serious jolt of self-esteem. Much appreciated!

      Claudia

  3. swatch says:

    Hey Claudia
    I like your choice of a positive subject in the midst of what is clearly a horrible situation, especially given your cautionary note about the ‘beast’.
    Here is some brain-science of why…
    Brain scan research shows that people with a positive *outlook* on life show high activity in the left prefrontal cortex in the brain. This area also inhibits the activities of the amygdala which floods us with negative *emotions* when triggered. So we may not be able to control our feelings but we are not completely at their mercy either. By adopting a positive outlook we can manage our emotions.
    Perhaps you know all of this (probably more). But what inspires me about your post is this…
    It is easy to ‘know’ stuff – you just have to read or be told.
    It is another thing to ‘believe’ it – you have to understand it and then trust it.
    But it is another thing entirely to ‘act’ on it. This takes discipline AND courage.
    “Lets do a little da Vinci” is that. And your description of your ‘windswept shag’ is very sunny and joyful – and brave and disciplined.
    Thanks for your inspiration.
    PS – I think the brain-science is right – it is not my field but I find it fascinating. I was inspired by a book by the clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University Medical Center – Richard Restak – called Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot.
    Stephen

    • artmodel says:

      Swatch,

      Thank you for sharing such fascinating and thought-provoking insights. I read your comments a few times to fully comprehend and appreciate them. I’ve often wondered about the connection between brain chemistry and mood disorders, and how much we, as individuals, can consciously control. I do believe we can control our moods to some degree, like I’m currently doing with my “beast”. But there are times, unfortunately, when we are at the mercy of our emotions if they are powerful enough.

      I love the things you said about my da Vinci post. You are so nice! I should be thanking YOU for your inspiration 🙂

      Claudia

  4. swatch says:

    Thanks Claudia – 200 posts and 129 171 hits in this subject makes you an institution I think – for good reason – Congratulations and have a great week – thanks for taking time on my post, it was difficult to summarise all that stuff but you are a real muse and I want to encourage you – S

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