"Leonardo Live" at Newport Performing Arts Center Feb. 21
High-def video tour shows largest-ever assembly of da Vinci paintings
Experience the London National Gallery's sold-out, once-in-a-lifetime exhibition "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan" in high-definition movie form called "Leonardo Live" in Newport, Oregon. Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (OCCA) presents this cinema event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W. Olive Street in Newport.
In a first for movie audiences, the big-screen presentation of 'Leonardo Live' gives art lovers the world over the opportunity to share in the excitement of viewing the unprecedented and historic exhibition. The historic exhibition is sold out in London and, due to the fragility of the paintings, the exhibition cannot tour. The exhibition brings together the largest-ever number of da Vinci's paintings, including a new, never-before-seen Leonardo painting. The program was captured on the eve of the exhibition opening in November 2011 – the cinema screening on Feb. 21 in Newport will feature extra content. Run time is 100 minutes, with no intermission.
"Leonardo Live" is presented by art historian Tim Marlow and presenter Mariella Frostrup, who will explore the exhibition and feature detailed examinations of the paintings and interviews with special guests and experts. See the paintings revealed in astonishing detail through close-up footage on the big screen.
The exhibition explores da Vinci's time in Milan when he became court painter to the city's ruler, Ludovico Sforza. Leonardo's stay, from about 1482 to 1499, was the most productive period of his career, and transformed his ideas on the status and purpose of art. Sforza aspired to create a perfect city, inhabited by exceptional men of talent, and gave Leonardo the time and resources to pursue detailed research into nature and art. Leonardo emerged as a painter-philosopher, convinced his art could not simply mirror nature but reveal a higher reality of divine harmony and beauty.
Leonardo started very few paintings during his lifetime, and completed even fewer. This exhibition gathers all the paintings Leonardo embarked on in Milan – with the exception of the mural of the "Last Supper," which remains in place in room 7 of the exhibition – and shows them alongside his numerous drawings. Work by his pupils and followers reveal his tremendous impact and are included in the exhibition to explore issues of attribution.
Works in the exhibition are displayed in seven rooms; following are brief descriptions of each:
Room 1, "The Musician in Milan: A Quiet Revolution" explores the early accounts of Leonardo's arrival in Milan which suggest he may have first appeared at Sforza's court in his capacity as a talented musician. Highlights include his revolutionary portrait from 1486-7 titled "The Musician" and works by his pupils which show the immediate impact of the change from strict-profile depiction to full frontal engagement with the subject.
Room 2, "Beauty and Love: Leonardo's Portraits of Women" examines the ways in which Leonardo explored the themes of love and beauty, which were essential to portraits of women in Renaissance Italy since it was commonly believed that a woman's outer beauty was a sign of her inner virtue. In about 1489, Leonardo painted "The Lady with an Ermine," a portrait of Sforza's 16-year-old mistress, Cecilia Gallerani, to illustrate his belief that by responding to all that was most beautiful and harmonious in the natural world, painting could inspire love in the viewer. And a few years later, his "Belle Ferronniere" indicate principles of ideal geometry and form being applied to create a beauty higher than nature.
Room 3, "Body and Soul: Saint Jerome in Penitence" indicates Leonardo's increasing interest in human anatomy, and his willingness to go to every length to ensure that figures in his work would appear credible, even when idealized. His unfinished "Saint Jerome" is profoundly informed by this research.
Room 4, "Painting the Divine: The Virgin of the Rocks" include two never-before-seen versions of the picture known as the "Virgin of the Rocks" (see this article's accompanying image), commissioned by the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and first begun in 1483.
Room 5, "The Madonna Litta: Leonardo and His Companions" explores the work of Leonardo, his assistants in the workshop that most historians believed he maintained from the late 1480s, and his most gifted students, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio and Marco d'Oggiono, who were referred to as his compagni depinctori, or companion painters. The picture of the Virgin and Child known as the "Madonna Litta" achieved extraordinary fame from the moment it was painted, and it is shown here with all surviving works connected with it, some by the master himself and others by pupils.
Room 6, "The Miracle of Talent: Leonardo and the French" examines Leonardo's commissions from various eager French patrons (including the French king), which he accepted during the few months he remained in Milan following the city's capture by King Louis XII's troops in September 1499. Leonardo probably painted "Christ as Salvator Mundi" for the king, and was his attempt to create an image of Christ almost as extraordinary as that believed to have been miraculously imprinted on the veil of Saint Veronica.
Room 7, "Character and Emotion: The Last Supper" studies the most ambitious work Leonardo made for Sforza, which was painted directly onto the wall of a convent in Milan, where it remains to this day. In executing the piece, Leonardo invented a technique that allowed him to work at his own pace and make revisions, but the technique proved unstable, and within 20 years the work was judged a ruin. On display here is the earliest known full-scale copy made before the work deteriorated, painted by a sympathetic pupil.
Ticket price is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students; call the Performing Arts Center at 541-265-2787 to purchase tickets by phone, or visit the box office at 777 W. Olive Street in Newport (hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour prior to performance time).