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Hogue-Sponenburgh Lecture: Professor Alessandro Nova
Start Date: 4/14/2016Start Time: 7:30 PM
End Date: 4/14/2016End Time: 9:00 PM
Event Description
‘La dolce morte’: Leonardo’s Anatomical Drawings and the Cognitive Value of Images Prof. Alessandro Nova, Director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz.

Recent progress in neurological studies has instilled renewed vigour into the discussion of the role played by images in the service of medical research and their inherent authority. What is the value of Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT)? How are such images created to appear so elementary, reassuring, and didactically adequate? Do we find ourselves before reliable representations of the organs examined? What is the relationship between what we see on the screen and reality itself? By altering and substituting the technological terms, these are questions that one could also bring to bear on the graphic practices of other centuries; for example, Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings. It is well known how the artist had elaborated a method of representing the body based as much on a precise and accurate observation of the natural world as it was on inevitable graphic abstractions. It was Leonardo himself who recorded, in numerous notes, how the visual strategies of his sketches would sometimes distance themselves from objective reality in a desire for clarity of “exposition”, i.e. for clarity of visual representation. He was also well aware of the fact that a drawing did not constitute a reproduction that was absolutely faithful to the world but rather a distinct and flexible instrument of knowledge in dialogue with the analytic capacity of the observer. If the problems of the relationship between words and images in the work of Leonardo are comparable, beyond merely qualitative differences, with the questions raised by modern scientific illustrations and observations, the objectives of their respective projects are, on the contrary, very different. Recent controversies over the concept of free will, provoked by results obtained in the field of neurology, indicate how even physicians today venture well beyond a purely functional diagnosis related to their own practical needs as doctors. Even so, Leonardo’s project advanced to an even higher ethical level since, with his anatomical investigations, he laid claim not only to bringing about advances in medical knowledge, but also to understanding the preconditions of a painless death. The artist possessed a sombre, even terrifying, image of death. It was, however, an image shared by many of his contemporaries and we would perform a great injustice to his research on the body if we separated his interest in anatomy from the fear he felt in the face of that ultimate moment that he himself defined as the “sommo danno”.
Location Information:
*WU Campus - Law School
245 Winter Street SE
Salem 97301
Phone: 503-370-6380
Room: 201 -- Paulus Lecture Hall
Contact Information:
Name: Ricardo De Mambro Santos
Phone: 5033706523
Professor Alessandro Nova
Admission / Ticket Info:
Event Sponsor(s):
The Hogue-Sponenburgh art lectureship, established and endowed by the late Janeth Hogue-Sponenburgh and Mark Sponenburgh, enables the Willamette University Department of Art History to bring a noted scholar, artist, critic, curator or art leader to campus each year to deliver a lecture and to meet informally with students and faculty.

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