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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the very influential renaissance artist whose immortal fame is founded on some of his paintings like MONA LISA (1503-1505, Louvre, Paris), ST.ANNE (1499-1500, National Gallery, London) or THE LAST SUPPER (1495-1498, Santa Maria della Grazia, Milano) and on original writings like Codex Atlanticus, Codex Leicester, Trattato della pittura . As polymath he contributed technical constructions, designs and papers to fields like architecture, geology, anatomy, astronomy, botany et al. but painting remained source of his inspiration over the 67 years of his life: with all his works he displayed an “infinite grace” (Giorgio Vasari, 1511-1574) and demonstrated that his deep feeling for beauty was hardly stressed by technical and financial constraints.

Modern artists like John Cage (1912-1992) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) have succeeded as multi-talents as well, but confronted with challenges of the fast expanding art - business, both have shown quite different reactions.

Warhol proclaimed fast money-making to artwork itself. He introduced a factory-like production and lost much of his talent and innovative power at the end of his fragile life. None-the-less, his new style of art production as combined with professional marketing became dominant in contemporary art. Actually Damian Hirst (1965 - ) is a global player in this market. He sells his installations, which frequently include bodies of animals, with amazing success. One of his masterpieces: “For the Love of God” is a human skull, made of platinum and further enhanced with inserted diamonds…

John Cage decided early against all this. As a native New Yorker, sucked with urban sophistication, he preferred living and working in the off-scene. A disciple of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), he became the renowned pioneer of modern music, initiated experiments with prepared instruments, composed with sound, noise, voices, with texts & images and lectured frequently in Europe, where his master-classes attracted several generations of students. In a parallel universe, he completed his 80-years-long life as an inventor by practicing yoga, creative vegetarian cooking and his individual research on spices & mushrooms.

What can we learn from Leonardo, John Cage and Steve Jobs (1955-2011), a new kind of polymath of the 21st century: that today, globally connected with access to paramount pools of knowledge, we are forced increasingly to make the right choices. We should become aware, that precision and passion, taste and “herzlichkeit” belong together and that fast & superficial decisions (sarkocisions) probably are no longer a signum of leadership. Perhaps there are central forces emerging in our heart-brain-mind universe, in parallel to the ongoing growth of complexity, which need to be perceived and enhanced by a continuous training of our heart-brain-mind interaction. PRE-and POST-natal sensomotoric stimulations, as we propose them with our BabyKea-project, may be regarded as a first stage in our efforts of lifelong-learning . Taste can be learned like other skills and much easier as compared with “herzlichkeit”. But there is remaining hope the latter will show a positive step after the individual taste-level has reached a certain threshold.


All rights reserved, Thomas Blum, Leonie Shihora, http://leonardoevolution.com