Monday, November 4, 2013

Renaissance Man

I've always maintained that caricature artists are, naturally, geniuses.
Well, at least one was.
Through various online sources, Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) is described as a "polymath -- displaying skills in numerous diverse areas of study.

While most famous for his paintings such as The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, conceptually inventing the helicopter, the tank, the use of concentrated solar power,  and a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. In practice, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, astronomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water (hydrodynamics)."
But this acknowledged genius was also, in his capacity as arguably the leading progenitor of Renaissance art...a caricature artist.
Welcome to the November edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.
According to artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari, Leonardo was "so delighted when he saw curious heads, whether bearded or hairy, that he would follow anyone who had thus attracted his attention for a whole day, acquiring such a clear idea of him that when he went home he would draw the head as well as if the man had been present."
Further, "Leonardo actively sought people with deformities to use as models. The point was to offer an impression of the original which was more striking than a portrait."

He "was fascinated by people with 'bizarre heads' and often followed them around to memorize their features, later copying or exaggerating them in his drawings. Throughout his career Leonardo produced many studies on different types of faces because in a desire to explore human physiognomy. He created numerous such small drawings of heads, which he called visi monstruosi (monstrous faces).
To wit:
Now I don't claim to be another Leonardo -- though I did read "The Da Vinci Code" and enjoyed it more than the movie.  But I digress...
Here are my explorations of visi monstruosi.  (Just don't tell these people that's how I referred to them...)
See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another exaggerated edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.