Leonardo arrives at Italian Cultural Institute
The mystique of Leonardo da Vinci has arrived at the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles in the form of a tiny exhibition. The long-planned project of the institute’s director, Francesca Valente, will open Thursday with two drawings by the Italian Renaissance master and a video installation by Bill Viola, a leading contemporary artist.
One drawing, “The Theatre Sheet,” shown with two fragments cut out of the sheet in the late 16th century, contains sketches of theatrical sets and productions. The other Leonardo, “Angel in the Flesh,” is an erotic image of an androgynous nude said to have been purged from the British Royal Collection during Queen Victoria’s reign because it was deemed pornographic.
Both drawings are on loan from unidentified private collections in Germany.
Viola’s video, “The Last Angel,” made in 2002, is the final segment of a series featuring figures plunging into and emerging from rushing water. Leonardo’s “Angel,” Valente says, “stands for the annunciation of life in all its complexity” while Viola’s work represents “the eternal cycle of life and death.”
L.A.'s art audience will get a more extensive look at Leonardo in an exhibition opening March 23 at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
“Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture: Inspiration and Invention,” a major international loan show organized by the High Museum in Atlanta and on view there through Feb. 21, explores the artist’s three-dimensional work, including designs for massive equestrian sculpture projects that were never completed.
-- Suzanne Muchnic
Photos: "Theatre Sheet" and two fragments, circa 1506-08, by Leonardo da Vinci. Credit: Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles