City University of Hong Kong is proud to present 12 original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci from the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, brought to Hong Kong for the first time to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. The Hong Kong University Museum Society is extremely pleased that Dr. Isabelle Frank, Exhibition Curator and Director of the City University Exhibition Gallery has agreed to guide our members on a private tour of this very special exhibition.
Leonardo da Vinci was first and foremost a polymath inventor and creator. Whether looking at plants, musical harmonies, or elliptical curves of cannon balls, he was fascinated by the world around him. His indiscriminate exploration of the diversity of human and natural knowledge—arts, humanities, sciences and technology—turned him into the exemplar of what is now called a Renaissance man.
Leonardo left behind over 6,000 drawings that reveal his scientific, theoretical, and creative mental worlds that remained largely unknown before the 19th century. Since then, however, his writings, overflowing with artistic, scientific, and technological inventions, have become almost more famous than his artwork. They reveal a polymath whose prescient observations and scientific analyses seem to foreshadow later discoveries.
In tribute to Leonardo’s continuing influence, nine contemporary artists (eight based in Hong Kong) have produced new artworks, imagining what Leonardo might have done in an era of digital media and virtual reality. Fully embedded in contemporary technology, these pieces nonetheless hark back in startlingly direct ways to the legacies of Leonardo’s drawings, paintings, and unlimited curiosity.
Dr. Isabelle Frank is currently Director of the City University of Hong Kong Exhibition Gallery; she focuses on curating exhibitions that combine technology and the arts and bridge Western and Asian cultures. An art historian by training with a PhD from Harvard University, she first taught at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts and was then associate dean for academic affair at The New School, and dean at Fordham University’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She has published on Italian Renaissance art and decorative art as well as edited many exhibition catalogues for the CityU Exhibition Gallery, including “Cabinets of Curiosities, Art Deco. The France-China Connection”, and most recently “Leonardo da Vinci. Art & Science. Then & Now.”