Biographer Walter Isaacson says Leonardo da Vinci, the subject of his latest book, was much more than a famous artist. Sure, da Vinci is best known for the two most famous paintings in history: the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But, Isaacson says, da Vinci also thought of himself as a scientist and engineer. He was self-taught and studied anatomy, flying machines, botany, and weaponry. He wanted to know all of the profound beauties of creation.
In June Isaacson spoke about his new book with David Rubenstein, co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Their discussion touches on da Vinci’s childhood in Florence in the 1400s, a city that was alive with music and art. Isaacson talks about da Vinci’s relationships and professional ambitions. He was a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, and easilty distracted. The variety of passions he pursued informed his artwork. His exploration of the math of optics produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper.
Finally, Isaacson describes how we all can draw lessons from da Vinci’s creativity and apply them in our own lives. Although he was arguably one of history’s greatest painters, the way he lived his life — taking the time to closely examine and appreciate his surroundings — is a skill accessible to all of us.
Discover more about what’s discussed in this episode by clicking the links below.
- Leonardo da Vinci, Walter Isaacson
- Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson
- Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
- “Einstein’s Creativity,” Aspen Ideas to Go
- Aspen Insight podcast, The Aspen Institute
The “Aspen Ideas to Go” podcast is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute — including Aspen Words, the Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Series, and various events around the country. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to each episode on the Aspen Ideas website.