Biographer Walter Isaacson, on Leonardo da Vinci’s art and science

Saturday, 11 November 2017, 09:21:43 PM. “Leonardo was curious to know everything there was to know about everything you could know about creation, including how we fit into it,” Isaacson says.
You may know Leonardo da Vinci best for masterpieces like the “Mona Lisa” or his oft-reproduced “Vitruvian Man” drawing, but the famous artist’s interests didn’t end with art. A true Renaissance man, da Vinci studied engineering, science and just about anything that caught his eye — filling more than 7,000 notebook pages with lists and observations over the course of his life. “Leonardo was curious to know everything there was to know about everything you could know about creation, including how we fit into it,” says biographer Walter Isaacson. “He made lists of questions every week, from ‘Why is the sky blue?’ to 'Ask [a friend of his] about how to do a measurement of the sun,' to things like 'Describe the tongue of a woodpecker' — something you'd want to know only out of pure curiosity,” Isaacson says. “Leonardo da Vinci, to me, is the ultimate example of somebody who sees beauty across both art and engineering.” Isaacson explores the artist’s boundless curiosity — and his brimming notebook pages — in the new book “Leonardo da Vinci.” He explains that da Vinci, who had almost no formal education, made very little distinction between science and art. “When he reached that unnerving milestone of turning 30, he writes a job application to the Duke of Milan and he lists all the things he can do in 11 paragraphs,” Isaacson says. “And the first 10 paragraphs are sort of engineering and design, like, I can design public buildings, I can divert the course of waters, I can make...Read more
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