|Study of Arms and Hands, c. 1474|
|Study of a Woman, c. 1490|
Earlier this month, one of those once-in-a-lifetime exhibitions opened in London: Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan. It runs at the National Gallery until early February.
This isn't a review, since I haven't seen the show. But it amazes me that an exhibition like this exists, so consider this another 'live stream' post—a placeholder for reflections and mullings on and around Leonardo's unbelievable images, with some suggestions about why we are seeing more of this work; and subject to being updated with new links, reviews and so on.
To state the obvious, it isn't easy to put together an exhibition like this. In fact there has never been, and will never be, a 'complete' Leonardo retrospective in the manner of a Picasso, a Judd, or a Richter survey—those big, bulky exhibitions that cover the full range of a capacious individual's oeuvre, and of which one can say, with a certain admiration, "I am large, I contain multitudes." These kinds of shows are necessarily overwhelming because they cover a multifaceted life. But in this case the reasons are practical: some of these fifteenth- and sixteenth-century frescoes are site-specific (painted directly on a wall), and they are universally under bureaucratic lock and key: all Leonardo's work, from the most magnificent painting to the quickest, most fleeting of drawings are owed by institutions and individuals (and the Royal Family). So the problems of red tape for any curator contemplating this kind of mountainous show is unimaginable.
Studies of Water passing Obstacles and falling, c. 1508-9