press release

There’s no question that Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the most intriguing people to ever live. Brilliant in the arts, sciences, and engineering, Leonardo da Vinci was driven by a deep sense of curiosity about the world around him, recording his observations on numerous pages of paper, which were later gathered and bound as manuscripts, or codices. The only manuscript by Leonardo in America, the Codex Leicester (pronounced “less-ter”) consists of 18 double-page and doubled-sided sheets (72 pages total), and its presentation at Phoenix Art Museum will be the first time a work by the hand of Leonardo himself will be on view in Arizona.

Leonardo’s active mind and working method are defined in this exhibition by three primary characteristics: curiosity, direct observation, and thinking on paper. These characteristics are vital parts of the creative process and they pave the way toward great discoveries and inventions. This exhibition of Leonardo’s Codex Leicester will be groundbreaking in its approach of bringing Leonardo into a broad artistic context that explores his continuing influence on artists into our own time.

Included in the exhibition will be carefully selected works of art by a diverse group of artists who shared aspects of Leonardo’s practices, including Leonardo’s Italian Renaissance contemporary Jacopo de’ Barbari, 19th-century painters Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, photographers Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Edgerton, and living artists Kiki Smith, Tony Foster and Bill Viola.

In the 21st century, video artist Bill Viola has stressed the value of watching movement in extremely slow motion, while often making reference to art of the past. Viola’s The Raft, 2004, is a video installation in which an assembled group of individuals are subjected to high pressure water hoses, allowing the scene to slowly reveal the effects.

Other artistic examples that explore the central themes will also be included.