LEONARDO DA VINCI-Art & Science·Then & Now

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The Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition

City University of Hong Kong is proud to present 12 original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci from the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, brought to Hong Kong for the first time to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. Leonardo was a scientist, painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, mathematician, and even musician, but he was first and foremost a polymath inventor and creator. Whether looking at plants, musical harmonies, or elliptical curves of cannon balls, Leonardo was fascinated by the world around him, and devoted his life to exploring and transcribing it. His indiscriminate love for and exploration of the diversity of human and natural knowledge—arts, humanities, sciences and technology—turned him into the exemplar of what is now called a Renaissance man.

The most prolific artist of his time, Leonardo left behind over 6,000 drawings that reveal his scientific, theoretical, and creative mental worlds. Though Leonardo was revered as a painter during his lifetime, these thousands of sheets remained largely unknown before the 19th century (only his unfinished “Treatise on Painting” was published). Since then, however, his writings, overflowing with artistic, scientific, and technological inventions, have become almost more famous than his artwork. They reveal a polymath whose prescient observations and scientific analyses seem to foreshadow later discoveries; one need only think of his flying machines, his perfect rendering of hydrodynamic water turbulence, and his industrial-age style machines (five models of which are also on display in the exhibition).

In tribute to Leonardo’s continuing influence, nine contemporary artists (eight based in Hong Kong) produced new artworks imagining what Leonardo might have done in an era of digital media and virtual reality. Combining new and old media, the artists respond to his ideas on flight, movement, light, and the act of drawing itself. Fully embedded in contemporary technology, these pieces nonetheless hark back in startlingly direct ways to the legacies of Leonardo’s drawings, paintings, and unlimited curiosity. Please note: all the drawings in the Exhibition Catalogue, unless otherwise stated, are from the Biblioteca and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan.




Pub. Date
Nov 19, 2019
204 pages
206 x 282 mm
The genius of Leonardo da Vinci is universal. First of all it is universal because his talent investigated countless manifestations of Nature and intellect, as the original drawings set in this exhibition show: civil and military engineering, geometry, perspective, optics and a project for a flying machine. This wide spectrum of interests, nurtured by a single man provided with an astonishing ability in drawing and an insatiable curiosity, have made Leonardo da Vinci universal also in the sense of worldwide renown; his multifaceted production raises admiration and wonder in every part of the globe, even five centuries after his death. This exhibition, organized by the gallery of the prestigious City University of Hong Kong in collaboration with the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana of Milan, clearly demonstrates this worldwide admiration, able not only to cause astonishment but also and moreover collaboration and dialogue among cultures. Italian genius and refined millennial Chinese culture meet in the remembrance of Leonardo, sign of an ancient friendship and omen of a lasting collaboration.


Alberto Rocca Director, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
昂布羅修藝術博物館總監 Alberto Rocca
Prefaces Way Kuo, Clemente Contestabile and Alberto Rocca I The Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition By Isabelle Frank II Mathematics, Geometry and Art By Isabelle Frank III Science, Optics and Flight By Isabelle Frank IV The Art of War By Isabelle Frank V Models and Copies By Isabelle Frank VI New Media and Contemporary Artworks By Jeffrey Shaw