Review – Leonardo: The Works

The film Leonardo: The Works is an Exhibition On Screen title, with limited release. The film discusses some of the most iconic works of Leonardo da Vinci. The film is unlike anything ever before put on the big screen and works towards allowing accessibility in the art world; when most people will never be able to visit all the different artworks shown, in all their different countries, it brings all of them to your local cinema. The camerawork of the film highlights the architectural beauty and cultural influence of the many galleries that house the art, the opening scenes of the Duomo in Florence (Da Vinci’s architectural masterpiece) capture the essence of the city perfectly.

The film invites the audience to understand the artwork in a wholly different way than the usual aimless wanderings around a huge gallery. Beyond the specific information that goes beyond that tends to go over your head in a gallery or museum, the film enables an emotional response which transcends such visits. The sheer beauty and intricacy of Leonardo’s work is a sublime mastery of perception and representation.  Interesting pieces that are believed to have aspects of da Vinci’s hand when he was an apprentice but that he was never credited for and the way in which the boundaries of art, that had not yet been explored, were pushed to extraordinary lengths.

However, it should be acknowledged that throughout the film there is a sense we are being told how to feel about the work – we should be in awe and why? Because this group of academics with their specialist language tell us so. Despite the film’s ability to bring art to our corner of Yorkshire, it still fails to fully deliver the wider accessibility so needed in art and its respective fields. Out of all the specialists who speak, three are women and nine are men, all of whom are white and over forty continuing to perpetuate ideas of ageism, sexism and racism within art academia. While Leonardo: The Works is a beautifully made film depicting the wonder of Leonardo Da Vinci, the film highlights that while strides are being made to widen accessibility, there is still more to be done in terms of representation and academia stereotypes.

By Eden Parry

Image courtesy of Exhibition On Screen