August 15, 2010

I went to the Getty Museum not too long ago and saw the Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture exhibit. It was truly awe-inspiring to stand in front of his sketchbooks and to be in the same space as marks made by his hand. Much of the exhibit explained that many of his sculptural projects were never completed. This is good information to absorb since it’s easy for artists to get down on themselves for not getting to projects they had hoped to. That Leonardo didn’t either certainly takes some of the pressure off. I bought the book about the exhibit at the gift shop and finished it only recently. Easily the most tragic chapter in Leonardo’s saga of unfinished projects is the equestrian monument of Francesco Sforza. Leonardo drew exhaustive studies of horses in planning the sculpture, which was to be 17 meters tall and weigh 80 tons. A clay model of the horse was finished in 1493 and displayed Palazzo Vecchio. The gargantuan clay horse was admired by all who saw it, but before the bronze casting could take place, Milan was attacked by France and the clay horse was destroyed – used for target practice.

I mention this story because it helps in giving me a sense of perspective in my own work. The next time a pet ruins something I’m working on, or I lose an important file because I didn’t back it up, I will be able to understand that my artistic losses are nothing in comparison to what the world was denied at the end of the 15th century.

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