Sunday, 15 May 2016

Quotes #2: Jacques Herzog. Leonardo da Vinci's disgust and disbelief

For some reason I'm very struck by this comment from the architect Jacques Herzog in Rowan Moore's Guardian article about Herzog and his architectural partner, Pierre de Meuron. Here's the full paragraph for context:

Artists, says Herzog, are much better at uncertainty and instability than architects. He unexpectedly cites Leonardo da Vinci and the way he painted an angel’s wings: “You can see he was not a believer. When he paints the joint where the wings meet, when he has to work out how you attach a wing, you get a sense of his disgust and disbelief.” Great names of architecture, by contrast, seem to have no such doubt. “They were almost religious about their work, a bit absurd. Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier: how can they be such heroes?”

That paragraph, or Herzog's point, doesn't make much sense to me. The part about architects being religious about their work or absurd is fine, but if artists are "better" at uncertainty, why can Herzog apparently discern da Vinci's disgust? Shouldn't it be undetectable?

So it's not that I think Herzog makes a good point: it's the assertion he makes that strikes me.

To say that da Vinci, possibly the most revered artist of all, was so unbelieving as to be unable to keep disgust out of his depictions of angels' wings! Mein Gott! 

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