February 14, 2004

The Importance of the Art Object: An Example

Dear Journal,

I keep returning to the three positions from which to view the art object. If you remember, in my January 12th and 14th, and February 8th and 10th entries I had discussed the three positions from which to perceive the art object. I had started that discussion arguing for the importance of the originating act, but soon realized that the art object itself, while inanimate, is the thing through which all three positions have intercourse. In that respect, it is like a toggle or switch that allows electric current to flow back and forth. The toggle might even be closed and opened.
For instance, I am presently reading The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, as are, I suppose, a great many people. It is an intense page turner of a mystery novel. I have only read a hundred pages or so, but so far, DaVinci’s “Vitruvian Man,” figures prominently in the text. The author analyzes DaVinci’s intent as one of the intricately interwoven currents in the complex plot of the book, which, on the surface is nothing more than the mysterious murder of a prominent art curator. As I have read the text, I have gleaned a plethora of related bits of information about the art work. They include the following. First, that DaVinci based the name on Vitruvius, the ancient Roman architect, who’s discourse, De Architectura discusses the divine proportion. Second, the divine proportion, also known as PHI (pronounced “fee”) is 1.618 to 1. Third, DaVinci’s art work “The Vitruvian Man,” visually the perfect man, stands inside a circle with his arms outstretched, and his legs spread far apart as though drawn and quartered to be dissected. He describes a pentacle. Fourth, a pentacle was not a symbol of evil in the ancient pagan world, but rather it was a symbol for the powerful creative feminine forces in the universe. Fifth, a pentacle is constructed of five lines that intersect in such a way as to make a five pointed star which is composed of intersecting lines that describe repeatedly the value of PHI. Sixth, the value of PHI occurs throughout nature with startling fecundity including the proportions of the human figure. Thus man and his architecture, are intricately intertwined with nature. And, this pagan construction flows through all of DaVinci’s commissioned works like invisible electrical currents flowing beneath the surface iconographic images about the Christian Catholic faith . How interesting that Dan Brown has created a Postmodern work of literature that opens the art works created by DaVinci in the Sixteenth Century proto Italian cultures to millions of viewers in the Twenty-first century North American culture.
Thus, Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Codeis a new toggle that allows an old one to be reopened. And, yes, it is understood that my comprehension and use of this old/new current will be different from that of the Sixteenth Century homosexual Catholic artist who created the older art work (Vitruvian Man). However, without these two art objects - one an image and one composed of text that creates a fiction - my perception and use of the former as a toggle through which to view the current of DaVinci’s thought and time would be limited to my own past perceptions about DaVinci. Dan Brown’s book opens me to a new exploration of the currents that flow through DaVinci’s work.

(We will talk of this more in the future, dear Journal, because the verbiage, “opens me,” implies that I too am a toggle.)

*Image, http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0739313126.01.THUMBZZZ.jpg, Amazon Books: Books Search Result: The DaVinci Code, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index%3Dstripbooks%26field-keywords%3DThe%2520DaVinci%2520Code/103-2929520-8917421(viewed Saturday, February 14, 10:04 A.M. EST 2004)

*1 http://www.aiwaz.net/Leonardo/vitruvianman/vitruvianthmb.jpg, aiwaz.net_institute, Leonardo DaVinci, http://www.aiwaz.net/Leonardo/vitruvianman/index.html, updated Fri Sep 12 17:29:55 2003 (viewed Saturday, February 14 10:30 A.M. EST 2004)

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