Thursday, January 3, 2013

In Defense of DaVinci

Leonardo DaVinci was arguably the most talented, imaginative and innovative artist of all time, in popular opinion, and in my opinion as well.  So, as I was exploring an art show recently, I was stopped in my tracks by something that I found quite alarming and borderline disrespectful. 
I have heard about the “Horse and Rider” lost sculpture of DaVinci’s.  It’s a fascinating story.  He was not known as a sculptor, yet somehow, miraculously, a beeswax casting of a “very rare” sculpture of his has survived (mostly intact), handed down through generations, until it came into the hands of a modern day businessman.  I say “businessman” in a loose term because I’m sure he is an art collector as well.  But, as I know from experience in galleries, many art collectors are actually shrewd businessmen and like to use their collection as commodity vehicles rather than appreciate the pieces.   Case in point, I have seen many gorgeous works of art be purchased then immediately placed in storage until their value goes up and they can be sold.  I find this very sad for the art.  I feel that art is a living thing, and wants to be seen.  It doesn’t want to be kept hidden away like some trophy wife. 
But, back to my story.  So, this “Horse and Rider” sculpture is being offered in limited edition small castings, available to anyone with the budget to purchase one.  I don’t know how I feel about it.  First of all, Mr. DaVinci obviously cannot have a say as to what happens with his art (which leads into a discussion about what should be public domain and what should not).  Also, even though this small edition is limited, who is to say they will not produce larger (or even smaller) limited- edition versions?  Theoretically, it could go on forever.  Someday everyone might have a copy of Leo’s “Horse and Rider” in their living room.  Why not?  Everyone has seen his “Mona Lisa” on postcards, paper napkins, switch plate covers (no doubt), t-shirts, and whatever.  Sigh.  Thomas Kinkade anyone?
I loved seeing the representation of this rare (for now) sculpture in person.  Yet, I feel unsettled about the packaging and selling of it.  I think this particular piece is far too rare and valuable to be made into key chains and screened onto t-shirts.  It came from DaVinci’s hand and deserves respect. 
All art deserves respect. 

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