LEONARDO DA VINCI

by Walter Isaacson

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1 positive comments

3 neutral comments

1 negative comments

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  • This book Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson is amazing! Shows where mans curiosity can lead man to surreal experiences and living.
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  • 7 positive comments

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    3 negative comments

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    What people are saying on Amazon (sample)

    • Isaacson does not consider Leonardo as a genius in the same sense as Isaac Newton and Einstein who had brains beyond the realm of we mere mortals, rather he looks at Leonardo as more human, though a man of intense curiosity -- about everything -- who could assimilate imagination and technology, in essence one of the first renaissance men. Isaacson has focused on Leonardo's notebooks and he has traveled to all the archives where the originals are maintained – a definitive work on the life of Leonardo da Vinci.This book is written as though one is talking a leisurely stroll with an art expert who is pointing out all the subtle details in each work. Early on Leonardo was an apprentice to Verrocchio. They worked together [collaborated] on “Tobia and the Angel” and on the “Baptism of Christ”. What is so astounding is that the use of modern X-ray analysis enables one to discern which part of the work was done by Leonardo and which part was done by Verrocchio. By the time of the “Baptism of Christ,” Leonardo was clearly surpassing his master.Via this book, I feel as though I am taking a leisurely stroll through the works of the masters and obtaining a priceless art education. However I realize, that in order to best appreciate this book, one must have an adequate exposure to art, art history, history in general, the Bible, the classics, the Greeks, etc. One cannot just pick up this book and fully appreciate Leonardo without a fair understanding of what came before.Wonderful. A great book for leisurely reading in a quiet reflective mood, one cannot race through it.
    • On this Thanksgiving Day 2017 I am grateful that I am able to sit down quietly and read Isaacson's biography of a man who died almost exactly 500 years ago. A man whose story describes the turning point in history , the Renaissance, when the unknown craftsman became the artist of the posterity, a common man could be come a celebrity, whose personality would itself become subject of admiration and study for the ages. As Walter Isaacson noted about Einstein, the lives of such personalities are now more relevant than ever - they lived life on their own terms, depending not on community or tradition for their achievements, their own inventions their own creations their only reward. And so it is for every man, woman alive today - we have Google, Amazon, and (yuck) Facebook - and can get all the information we want, buy anything we need to satisfy our dreams and follow where our curiousity and imagination will lead us ; 'Stay hungry, stay foolish' as Steve Jobs would say. We are no longer bound by custom and tradition, but as Steve Jobs again reminded young Stanford grads 'You are all going to die soon' Death is greatest change agent of life ' and we must define ourselves in the time we have by what we do, what we create, what we leave behind. There is no instruction book, unfortunately, on how to be unique, how to be creative, how to find and keep your identity in a world where everyone can be a prophet on the Internet, everyone a genius, everyone a madman. We can only give thanks that we have such marvelous examples provided to us - by one of the greatest biographers (along with David McCullough) of all time. Happy Thanksgiving!
    • Walter Isaacson does a wonderful job portraying the life of Leonardo da Vinci. The text goes more or kess in chronological order and is, in my opinion, the best biography of Leonardo out there. Bramly's biography comes close but is clearly out of date (not mentioning recent attributions). Isaacson clearly knows the historiography. He repeatedly cites scholars like Martin Kemp in telling the stories of recent attributions (Salvator Mundi, La Bella Principessa). Isaacson is also familiar with the work of Toby Lester (Vitruvian Man, Francesco di Giorgio). In terms of history, Isaacson has a clear general grasp of the great men who influenced Leonardo (such as Alberti). Leonardo's various interests, skills, shortcomings, and curiosity are explored in great detail. Additionally, the book is well-illustrated and includes numerous images from his notebooks, his paintings, and key locations. Finally, Leonardo da Vinci has a current biography aimed at a popular audience written by perhaps the greatest biographer of the early-twentieth century. I highly recommend this text.
    • Although Isaacson's writing style is clear, and the book is exhaustively researched, giving great insight into Da Vinci's life, I cannot give it more than three stars because it is also tediously repetitive. Many of the topics he covers - such as Da Vinci's painting style, his personality (including his inability to finish commissioned works), the way he delved into human anatomy, his insights into the portrayal of movement - all of these and more were described, described again, and then redescribed several times over throughout the book.This is a 500+ page book that, with good editing, could have been cut down to 300 pages without any loss of important material. Yet at the same time, while dwelling on Da Vinci's clear genius as an individual, the book fails to provide any real depth about how Da Vinci's work fit into the society and culture of his era. Isaacson presented some basic material but not nearly enough to clearly connect Da Vinci to the times he lived in.At the end I was left thinking that rather than being a general interest book, this volume would work better as a text for a university-level art history class. The brush-stroke by brush-stroke analysis Isaacson presents in his discussions of Da Vinci's major paintings might be of great interest to students of his art, but as an enthusiastic reader of history and biography, I found such technical deconstruction to be distracting at best and boring at worst.
    • In one sense, this is an incredibly enjoyable biography that sheds light on the varied achievements and adventures of history's most dynamic creative genius.In another sense, it is among the most frustrating books I have ever read.This frustration stems from a telling fact about the book: out of 33 chapters, one is devoted to Da Vinci's personal life. Perhaps I'm in the great minority that opened this book hoping for a vivid portrait of not only the great artist's works, but also his personality. This was certainly my experience with Isaacson's other biographies. In the little details about Ben Franklin's strange hijinks when sharing an Inn room with John Adams, or elderly Einstein helping children with their math homework, one can begin to form an understanding of how such iconic geniuses actually operated in day to day life.But after more than 500 fascinating pages about Leonardo's paintings, journals, and drawings, the man himself remains as mysterious as ever. Perhaps this was no fault of Walter Isaacson's, and there is simply not enough evidence left behind to put together a detailed portrait of Da Vinci's personal life. However, this doesn't seem to be the case, as he occasionally provides tantalizing fragments from letters and journal entries such as:"The Medici made me and ruined me.""Tell me was anything ever done...tell me....tell me."Isaacson gives such fragments just a couple of sentences of consideration. Throughout the book, personal letters are referred to and quoted, but never in much detail or in the context of other clues about Da Vinci's personality. To be clear, I loved learning more about the paintings and journals. They are among the most fascinating documents ever produced by mankind. But in voluminous biographies, especially those of Isaacson, I've come to hope for more than analysis of well-known achievements. I feel as if the cover itself perhaps misled me. After reading this book, I'm well educated on all the grace and beauty of the man's works, but still entirely ignorant about the pattern of his soul.