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Can the idea of “speed decrease” apply also to old masters, or is it intrinsic to our current fast culture as a possible alternative to our speed-information overload?
There is possibly one artist that could apply to this concept, an artist who left us approximately 15 paintings: Leonardo da Vinci. One of the greatest minds ever born, Leonardo was also known for being a very “slow” painter, leaving many paintings unfinished.
This was due to his hunger for knowledge and complete accuracy, thus it was unconceivable for him to paint a subject without having first thoroughly understood its nature, anatomy and functionality. His “Adoration of the Magi” was preceded by numerous equine studies, demonstrating an unparalleled knowledge of a horse's body and movement. It was then left unfinished because his attention focused on flight, putting down his paint brushes to study the first prototypes of airplanes.
In painting, his technique was purposefully slow: His famous “sfumato” (an extremely subtle passage from light to darkness) could only be achieved by a very slow layering of thin transparent color. Because frescoes had to be painted fast, Leonardo tried to invent a technique that would allow him to work in his slow manner even on a fresco-prepared wall. The result however was not very durable, leading to the current state of The Last Supper, now just a mere shadow of what it must have looked like at his time.
We hope you enjoy this unique artist who truly deserves to be called a genius.
Image Credits: Leonardo da Vinci, The Isleworth Mona Lisa, oil on canvas, 16th Century