There are two towering giants in the History of Art, Leonardo Da Vince and Vincent Van Gogh. I would like to draw a comparison between these two artists so as to better understand their work.
Leonardo is a figure of the Renaissance whereas Van Gogh is from the late 19th Century. However, these two great men have much to offer us today in ways that are very similar to each other. First and foremost both men are very linear in their approach to art.
Leonardo always had his sketchbook with him so as to grab images quickly while he was about. These sketches form the basis for the undertaking of all of his great works. One only has to look at he Adoration of the Magi or his Cartoon of the Virgin and St. Anne to immediately grasp his understanding and use of line. Leonardo’s grasp of line was for far more than a drafting skill to set-up a painting, rather his drawings are expression of his core feelings and thoughts about his subjects and he conveys about this in his writings.
Van Gogh too uses his drawings in his work, however, unlike Leonardo, Van Gogh would paint directly on the canvas without the use of any drawings. This is not to diminish his drawings, rather, it is to demonstrate the mind of Van Gogh. If you look and any of his drawings you are aware all at once that everything in the drawing is the subject. Van Gogh is able to integrate together all that he sees and put them down on paper. Certain drawings of his are so outstanding that it is difficult to look at them and understand them. In the same manner Leonardo’s drawings of wind and water are masterpieces that are difficult to understand but the message of the drawings call out to you.
With regards to the paints of the two masters both of them and totally different approaches. Leonardo wanted to convey the scene or event that has been requested of him, whereas Vincent had no desire to convey any scene. Van Gogh wanted to express himself through his paintings and often that means that they are very abstract and not easily rendered as images of scenes or events. The key difference between Leonardo and Van Gogh is that the later’s work pulsates and demonstrates vigor. Leonardo on the other hand used very subtle tones and strokes to render his art. Both men are very different in their approach to art but both of them offer us the same thing and that is the revelation of the inner consciousness at work within us and made manifest through their art.
Stephen F. Condren – Artist