Leonardo Da Vinci and Marcel Duchamp Essay

Leonardo Da Vinci and Marcel Duchamp Essay

Introduction
A famous man once said “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions”. At the time that Leonardo da Vinci said this, he did not know how true it would be for one Marcel Duchamp, in terms of the influence former would have on the latter. And to prove this, refer to Duchamp when he said “I don’t believe in art, I believe in artist’s.” There have been many artists in the past who have criticized, influenced and learned from one another. In this essay, we will outline a brief biography of Leonardo da Vinci and Marcel Duchamp in hopes of realizing the various similarities and differences between the two exceptionally influential figures.

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da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was born in April of 1452 in Florence, which is present day Italy, and died in May of 1519. He is widely considered one of the most influential people to come from the renaissance period. As one of the most renowned artists to ever live, he showed versatility through his many diversified talents such as a painting, music, science, innovation and invention, engineering, and writing, among other things. Best known for his art, his most well known works were the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, still being heavily reproduced to this day. His work in science furthered knowledge and practices in the fields of civil engineering, anatomy, optics, and hydrodynamics. He also invented opulent machines that were considered technologically ahead of his time. Although his designs were also flawed, he had a better grasp on theoretically inventing weapons as well as different types of flying machines. (Fagaro)

Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French American artist born on the 28th of July, 1887 and died in October of 1968. He was a versatile artist who liked to reflect on the relationship between art, science, and the aesthetics of machinery. He started out experimenting with Post-Impressionist styles using classical subjects as well as Cubism and Fauvism. He managed to learn about printing processes and typography during his time serving for the military, which had a large influence on his later work.

Duchamp was considered to be a very playful and intellectual man. He invented the readymade style, which is a style that requires for one to choose an already existing object that is just neutral. It should not be so aesthetically pleasing yet it should not be unattractive either. He also invented Bachelor Machines, the most popular one being The Large Glass. Although these machines were not at all practical or even useful, they looked like very sophisticated machines. (Marquis)

The Marriage
Although da Vinci died in the 16th century and Duchamp lived in the 20th, the artists shared a lot of similarities in their styles and some even Duchamp one of the most ‘Leonardesque’ artists there were. It was clear that da Vinci had a large influence on Duchamp when, on the 400th anniversary of da Vinci’s death, Duchamp took a reproduction of the Mona Lisa and drew a beard and a mustache on her face, with the caption of “L.H.O.O.Q”, which, if pronounced in French, sounds likes ‘she has a nice butt’. Both men found the need to include intellectual analyses in their works and considered mathematics as a crucial knowledge. This can be seen through their record keeping of all their developments that required much cerebral activity. They both had a reserved and mysterious nature when it came to their inventions, theories, concepts, and art.

Other parallels between the artists were their self-critical nature of their works. Duchamp’s notes made it seem that he was quite aware that he shared a lot of similarities with da Vinci. Because they shared similar upbringings, their personality types were very similar. Both men were both were, and still are, often questioned about their sexuality. da Vinci was widely regarded as a homosexual and Duchamp frequently had himself portrayed as a woman named Rrose Selavy in photographs. Even with that, neither man was clearly considered as a homosexual, as da Vinci gave life to two children and Duchamp fathered six. Duchamp also seemed to have fun poke fun at da Vinci for his apparent sexual nature. (Cabanne) A steady job never pertained to either of the men’s careers and neither man had a huge problem with that.

Conclusion
To wrap it up, Duchamp and da Vinci were very similar in their personalities but their works do have a strong distinction from each others. For instance, although Duchamp lived later in life, his inventions contained less realistic application to real life than da Vinci’s! It seems that if they were alive at the same time, they would have had a lot of fun competing against one another. Both men created a lot and influenced the rest of the world for many years to come by way of their drive and determination to innovate and challenge the conventional way of thinking.

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