The new Da Vinci The Genius exbibit at The Venetian could have gone a number of directions. The og Jack of all trades did more on his off-days than most of us achieve in a lifetime. Rather than rehashing most of what we’ve already seen, Imagine Exhibitions took an interesting approach: they built 75 scaled machine inventions from his sketches, allowing us to see his paper inventions and improvements come to life.
His drawings and notes are presented as several (replica) hand-bound codices and wooden models for various aerial inventions, diving equipment, a tank, and submarine, to name a few. There are several themed areas that feature in-depth explorations such as the Vitruvian Man. An interactive touch-screen kiosk caps it off with in-depth history, additional sketches, and associations with other Renaissance peeps.
One of the last and most extensive features of the walk-through is Mona Lisa Revealed. At the opening last night, The Venetian flew out Pascal Cotte, a Da Vinci expert, to speak on the underlying secrets of the world’s most famous painting.
As the only person allowed by the Louvre to photograph the Mona Lisa in-depth, Cotte used a multispectral camera to take extremely high-resolution photos of the painting to show sketch strokes beneath the layers of paint. To give you an idea, high-resolution commercial printing is based on 300 pixels per inch. Cotte’s camera can capture up to 3,000 pixels per millimeter. The camera also revealed how Da Vinci used semi-transparent layers of glaze (as many as 30) to offer the effect of soft shadows over Mona’s face.
Cotte explained how the process took almost 20 hours, jokingly saying that he “spent the night with Mona Lisa.” He waxed scientific for about half an hour, showing us the original colors based on the paintings chemical composition, and original strokes hidden under the surface that were later altered. It turns out that Florence’s favorite son was human after all. An interesting fact: Lapis Lazuli was used as pigment for its ultra-blue hue (not just to adorn the Bishop’s tomb).
If you find yourself at The Venetian with $27 to spare ($20 for locals), Da Vinci The Genius is a nice respite from the casino floor. Tickets are available at the Venetian box office, and here. Open daily from 10 am to 9 p.m.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.