closet painter

A “flamboyant homosexual” as Dan Brown labeled Leonardo is misleading and irrelevant unless the author was searching for a DNA code for gay tendencies and not the other trail of splatter leading to the holy grail. Although a kind of open secret, the presumptions of its influence on his art seem negligible,pretentious and bordering on kitsch. And Da Vinci, based on the writings of Giorgio Vasari, though of an artistic instability and variability, did not seem to harbor an identity crisis. Freud’s scholarly reading of Leonardo is in large measure an intense focus of his own projections onto and identification with the artist with extensive off-road bifurcations and twists, but ultimately submitting Leonardo to his one theory fits all.

---Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519). The Virgin (or Madonna) of the Rocks, ca. 1483–86. Oil on panel, transferred to canvas. 199 x 122 cm (78 5/16 x 48 in.). Musée du Louvre, Paris--- Read More:

But, sexuality and Leonardo is a more ambiguous affair that does not lend itself to premature assumptions. Essentially, Leonardo transcended Freud in part through an understanding that the gender gap is largely a contrived, artificial and jerry-mandered construction that may tend to obscure more profound truths while offering up a menu of generic archetypes that broaden the palette so to speak and minimizing the confluence between the sexes. Although a master in the presentation of images and the illusions of objects, Leonardo, in essence, provided what Kuspit termed a matrix of material sensations.

However,  Freud’s contribution has much merit. Particularly,  insights about aesthetic form and the affect that arises both in the beholder and the creator. It is Freud’s affect-related argument in relation to Leonardo’s paintings or the conclusions drawn that stubbornly wish to pathologize the intangible qualities. Leonardo’s own sexuality transcends gender; waffling onto deity like fantasies of androgynous liaisons between magical realms. The Virgin of the Rocks is an example of androgyny: it features an angel whose gender is indeterminable. Oddly, No other Renaissance artist picked up on this preoccupation androgyny, which was almost a trademark, a means of expressing infinite longing, the eternal pulse of life that was neither gender defined.

---In Leonardo, he takes this same conclusion a step further: he recognizes, but will not fully acknowledge, the idea that this shared unconscious identification originates in a sentient relation to the maternal body, a relation that ultimately exceeds its maternal referent and refuses to be consigned to the past.--- Read More: image:

…Leonardo was rumored to have been homosexual by his contemporaries. He was, in fact, twice charged with sodomy in 1476. Though he was imprisoned for two months, the charges were dropped for lack of witnesses. It must be duly noted that he was one of four people charged with sodomizing the individual in this particular case, which was subsequently dropped.

Additionally, accusing someone of sodomy, in 15th century Florence, was not an infrequent tactic used to cause someone else trouble. Leonardo was anonymously accused, and it’s quite tempting to speculate that the accuser was a lesser-talented artist.Read More:

---The Battle of Anghiari is a lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci at times referred to as, "The Lost Leonardo", which some commentators believe to be still hidden beneath later frescoes in the Hall of Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Its central scene depicted three men riding raging war-horses engaged in a battle for possession of a standard. This is the finest known copy of Leonardo’s lost Battle of Anghiari fresco. It was made in the mid-16th century and then extended at the edges in the early 17th century by Rubens, who also completed the sword of the fourth horseman. Sometime around October 1503, Leonardo was commissioned to paint the mural of The Battle of Anghiari, for the Sala del Gran Consiglio, the recently rebuilt Great Council Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, during the first years of the city’s republican government. An ambitious painting, Leonardo used a type of plaster which he read about in a book by Pliny, with the unfortunate result that the work he had barely begun was irreparably ruined.--- Read More:

aesthetic symptoms in favor of a narrative that presents art as the symptom of a repressed homosexuality for which the mother’s excessive affection provides the germ. This narrative, with which many will be familiar, corresponds conveniently to Freud’s already established theory of homosexuality as arrested development. However, if we take Freud at his word and consider that in writing Leonardo he has indeed created a psychoanalytic novel—and we might even go so far as to say a queer künstlerroman—then it would seem his own aesthetic form speaks what his theory cannot. In other words, if Freud’s theory suggests that the art itself is symptomatic of a repressed libidinal attachment to the mother, his psychoanalytic novel instead implies that this libidinal attachment is the progenitor of a wealth of sensation that art alone can keep in circulation. As such, Leonardo’s art speaks not so much to a desire for or a fixation upon a specific object, but rather invokes the fluidity and movement of desire itself. Hence, despite Freud’s efforts to make Leonardo’s art conform to his own legitimizing narrative and therefore yield a psychoanalytic subject, the art instead generates an aesthetic subject who refuses to be contained within predictable psychoanalytic narratives.

---Jonathan Jones:But what is wrong with it is the belief that art can ultimately be theorised and explained. It's not that Freud gets the artist wrong – his essential claims are convincing, his characterisation of the genius's indecisive and gentle personality acute – but that the ques

r ultimate origins and final explanations seems futile. You might say that Freud's bedside manner towards Leonardo – his doctoring – is superb, but his scientific analysis seems to go beyond that humane sensitivity. Read More:


Freud’s understanding that art generates the enigmatic affective quality he calls “forepleasure” has some affinity with Bersani’s notion that art invokes an aesthetic subject. According to Bersani, it has been psychoanalysis’ inability to think the unconscious—and by extension phantasy—as a “dimension of virtuality rather than of psychic depth”  that has hampered psychoanalytic approaches to art. A sense of the unconscious as implying psychic depth invokes an account of the self as constructed by a buried past that determines its future, a self that is always already situated antagonistically in opposition to the external world. By contrast, to think the unconscious and its phantasies as a dimension of virtuality necessitates configuring the extension of self into world as a continuous encounter, temporally suspended across past, present, and future, premised upon reciprocity and a shared contingency Read More:

---He goes further, into blasphemy. He boasts that he once painted a Madonna so beautiful that the man who bought it was haunted by unseemly thoughts. Even after it was altered, perhaps with the addition of crosses and saintly symbols (as was done in Leonardo's second version of The Virgin of the Rocks), it still gave him an erection when he tried to pray. So in the end he returned the painting to Leonardo, who delighted in this pornographic triumph.--- Read More:

…Freud argues that its perfection lies in the fact that although sexual repression does occur, there is some component instinct of sexual desire that does not get relegated to the unconscious. This excess libido then somehow “evades the fate of repression by being sublimated from the very beginning into curiosity and by becoming attached to the powerful instinct for research as reinforcement” . As Freud defines it here, sublimation refers to a psychical process entirely different from the mechanism of repression so central to his theory of sexual neurosis: “[O]wing to the complete difference in the underlying psychical processes (sublimation instead of an irruption from the unconscious) the quality of neurosis is absent; there is no attachment to the original complexes of infantile sexual research, and the instinct can operate freely in the service of intellectual interest” . In this instance, Freud theorizes the excess libido as having escaped repression and as having remained unattached to the original infantile complexes. However, when he offers Leonardo as a model instance of the third vicissitude, he revises his previous definition of sublimation as a unique psychical process and suddenly suggests instead that its mechanism is closely related to repression: “The core of [Leonardo’s] nature, and the secret of it, would appear to be that after his curiosity had been activated in infancy in the service of sexual interests, he succeeded in sublimating the greater part of his libido into an urge for research” . This second definition suggests that the sublimated libido remains attached to infantile sexual researches and thereby opens the door for Freud to explore the ideational content of Leonardo’s phantasies as having had sexual themes.( ibid.)
(Strange as it may be to say so, the same thing is already underway in what Breton called Leonardo’s “paranoid wall”: however much the wall generates images or illusions of objects, it stubbornly remains a matrix of material sensations. I think the same can be said of Leonardo’s more immaterial sfumato, although that may be forcing the point. I mention Leonardo because I think that if he was alive today he would be a cutting edge digital artist and computer scientist.) Read More:

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Art History/Antiquity/Anthropology, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>