Art (Artists, A-Z) Martin Kemp Leonardo

ISBN 13: 9780192805461

Leonardo

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9780192805461: Leonardo

A true genius whose talents embraced painting, engineering, anatomy, and flight, Leonardo da Vinci was--and remains--an extraordinary human being, indeed one of the most intriguing figures in world history, as the recent success of The Da Vinci Code attests. Now, in this new biography, Martin Kemp explores the essential nature of this forever fascinating artist-engineer, both as an individual and as a historical phenomenon.
How can we best understand Leonardo? How did his mind work--was he prolific but scattered in his thinking, or is there a method in what often seems to be his madness? Was he basically an artist who also pursued science and technology, or was "science"--his understanding of the physical world--central to his artistic vision? In Leonardo, Martin Kemp offers a vivid portrait of the Renaissance giant that answers these questions and more. The book takes us on an absorbing journey through the life and work of Leonardo, looking first at the historical man, portraying an impressive and cultivated figure, an artist who in truth completed few paintings, rarely satisfied a commission, and yet lived in style and ended his career with a massive salary. More important, the author examines the ideas underlying Leonardo's investigations of nature, illuminating his vision of the artist-engineer as matching nature itself in his creativity. Kemp argues that Leonardo's apparent diversities reveal a desire to find an inner unity in the functioning of everything in the observable world. For Leonardo, writes Kemp, every act of looking and drawing was an act of analysis, and he used these analyses to re-make and re-interpret his surroundings. In a final chapter, Kemp also comments on the Da Vinci Code and "the continuing public appetite for Leonardo and his doings."
Beautifully illustrated with a unique "thumbnail museum" that offers a tour of all Leonardo's paintings, plus 30 additional illustrations and life-size reproductions of pages from his famous notebooks, Leonardo is a powerful portrait of one of the towering geniuses of world history.

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About the Author:


Martin Kemp is University Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford, Trinity College. The author of The Oxford History of Western Art, he is an eminent art historian who has carried out extensive research into the art, science, and technology of Leonardo.

Review:


"A serious book filled with fresh thought.... Kemp has succeeded at something that is possible only after years of reflection."--A. Richard Turner, Los Angeles Times


"Leonardo seen from the inside out.... A series of intense, learned meditations on Leonardesque themes.... Kemp tries to define what Leonardo thought he was doing, and why. He argues, convincingly, that Leonardo was constantly searching for a universal system of proportion--not merely a system of aesthetic proportion, like the famous Golden Mean, but a system of proportion that would explain, as Newton's inverse-square rule of gravity did, two centuries later, the fundamental workings of forces."--Adam Gopnick, The New Yorker


"A leading authority on Leonardo da Vinci, Kemp attempts to set forth a succinct, understandable, unified account of da Vinci's creative and intellectual life.... Fascinating, enlightening, well written, and easy to read."--Library Journal


"Excites the reader's admiration for the restless vitality of the man and his ideas.... Kemp is at his best when elucidating Leonardo's scientific investigations.... The heart of his book introduces us to some of the investigations that kept Leonardo from finishing paintings, ranging from optics, anatomy and engineering to geology and hydraulics."--Washington Post Book World


"Kemp, an eminent Oxford art historian and Leonardo scholar, has condensed what he calls Leonardo's 'strange career' as an artist, engineer, and musician into a series of key moments."--The Economist


"A noble attempt to bring a legend down to earth.... Kemp's experience offers just as many pleasures and benefits; after a career spent researching the artist, he's well suited to provide a personal account of Leonardo, enriched by anecdotes and contemporary analogies. At the close, he succinctly reviews why Leonardo is worth studying, using the Mona Lisa as case in point and giving a marvelous description of the experience of seeing the painting out of its frame and bullet-proof case. It makes an exceptional finale."--Kirkus Reviews


"If Martin Kemp's book is as widely read and discussed as it deserves to be, a new image of Leonardo will supplant that of the indecisive polymath. This new Leonardo will be seen as a consummate quester, one whose curiosity took him everywhere."--St. Petersburg Times


"Kemp is a recognized authority on Leonardo and has some more substantial things to say about him. The illustrations, the thumbnail gallery of the paintings and the biographical timeline also make this a concise and useful reference book."--San Jose Mercury News


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Kemp, Martin
Editorial: Oxford University Press (2004)
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