Cross-eyed Leonardo

LeonardoNot long ago, I wrote a post about the diagnoses of poor Mona Lisa, Feed Lisa Some Stake, whom the researchers could not leave alone and saddled Gioconda with multitude of health problems. Recently, scientists turned their attention to the master himself, Leonardo da Vinci.Leonardo1

Professor Christopher W. Tyler, PhD, DSc of City University of London, published an article Evidence That Leonardo da Vinci Had Strabismus in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Key Points

Question  Did Leonardo da Vinci, the preeminent artist-scientist of the Italian Renaissance, have a form of strabismus that could have facilitated his artistic work?

Findings  Examination of 6 likely portraits and self-portraits of da Vinci in which the direction of gaze of each eye is identifiable shows that most paintings exhibit a consistent exotropic strabismus angle of −10.3°, supported by a similar Hirschberg angle in the recently identified da Vinci painting Salvator Mundi.

Meaning  The presence of exotropia, particularly if it was intermittent, may have contributed to da Vinci’s exceptional ability to capture space on the flat canvas.


Importance  Strabismus is a binocular vision disorder characterized by the partial or complete inability to maintain eye alignment on the object that is the target of fixation, usually accompanied by suppression of the deviating eye and consequent 2-dimensional monocular vision. This cue has been used to infer the presence of strabismus in a substantial number of famous artists.

Objective  To provide evidence that Leonardo da Vinci had strabismus.

The researcher analysed eyes in six pieces of art thought to be based on da Vinci: David (Andrea del Verrocchio); Young Warrior (Andrea del Verrocchio); Salvator Mundi (da Vinci); Young John the Baptist (da Vinci); Vitruvian Man (da Vinci).

Professor Tyler fitted circles and ellipses to the pupils, irises, and eyelid apertures on the artwork and then measured the relative positions of these features.

He found that there was evidence of strabismus in all six pieces of work.Leonardo


In this diagram, the degrees of optical axial angles of the left and right eyes of all the studied characters of paintings and sculptures are shown, and the difference between them just shows a slightly stronger deviation of the left in almost all cases. And this, according to Tyler, can serve as evidence of the divergent squint of da Vinci. Well, maybe…

Indeed, such an eye position significantly improves stereoscopic vision and the ability to see spatial depth. “The first thing to consider is whether the objects have the necessary contrasts corresponding to their [three-dimensional] position,” Leonardo wrote in his Treatise on Painting.  Leonardo was one of the first artists to incorporate three-dimensionality into his work. It seems very likely, is it not, that the cause of this brilliant innovation is physiological.



Meet The Artist: Alex Kupalian

2. «Альба. Побег», 2015 г.

Alba. The escape

Silhouette of a woman in a lace mantilla, reclining on a patterned carpet, either asleep, or dead. As you know, the great Spaniard Francisco Goya painted the Duchess of Alba nude in anticipation of love. The young Russian artist Alexander Kupalyan depicts Alba on her deathbed with his face partially covered. Why?

Тhe artist, a young man in a white T-shirt smeared with paint, with a picture of Caravaggio on his chest:


Perhaps, it comes from childhood, which is remembered for an endless succession of funerals. Usually, the dead found their last shelter in our apartment, in the next room, literally behind the wall. At first I was terribly afraid of them, and then I got used to it. In the end, we all live in the presence of Love and Death. And it is still unknown who will knock on our door first. For me, Duchess Alba became the embodiment of Eros and Thanatos. And “Escape”… well, because the sunset was already burning down, the night was coming, and her soul would soon leave this earth, leaving only the perishable body on the carpet.

4. «Волна. Атландида», фрагмент, 2017 г.

“Wave. Atlantis”, fragment. 2017

The entire wall is taken up by a huge canvas “Wave. Atlantis”. Some frantic boiling emerald color, echoing in its richness with the paintings of old masters. It turns out that Alexander passionately loves the sea. Ready to draw it endlessly. But he is not interested in just seascapes, he wants to penetrate into the very thickness of the water. He seemed to be looking into the abyss. It already remotely looks like a method. Kupalyan’s gaze is not directed towards heaven, not up, but precisely downward, into a black twilight, curling under his feet.

5. «Помпеи. Шаг в вечность», фрагмент, 2017 г.

“Pompeii. Step into eternity ”, fragment. 2017

Gray ash, black scorched grass and coals crackling with the last, terrible sparkle. The killed land, killed nature, killed soul are constant motives, permanent images of Kupalyan’s works. And a dog covered with the ashes of Vesuvius and turned into a modest monument to human indifference and oblivion.

“When I wandered around the dead city, I was most struck by the fact that in Pompeii the dogs were kept on a very short leash, and when the eruption of Vesuvius began, the tied up animals could not escape from burning lava.”

6. Black Christ

“Black Christ”

3. «Черный Христос», фрагмент. 2014-2015 гг.

Shape Of A New Life. Hiroshima. 2018

The series of works titles “The Death of Cities”, created especially for the exhibition at the VS Unio, presents the mystical world of dying civilizations through the language of painting, based on the artist’s impressions of traveling in Italy, the experience of training at the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples, encountering with the traces of cruel cataclysms and natural disasters.

1. Shape Of A New Life. Hiroshima. 2018

“Shape Of A New Life. Hiroshima”. 2018

Thirst for serious meanings, an appeal to the eternal themes was relevant for thinking artists in different periods of the history of art. Serious easel painting requires solitude and silence. It always involves the voluntary rejection of many temptations and enticements. Few artists have such stamina these days. But Kupalyan’s art is encouraging evidence that masterpieces are still possible.

Lady Godiva’s Tax Cut

Lady Godiva is an 1897 painting by English artist John Collier

You might associate the name “Godiva” with a brand of Belgian chocolates, but it was first popularized as part of a 900-year-old English legend. The original Lady Godiva was an 11th century noblewoman married to Leofric, the powerful Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry.

As the story goes, Godiva was troubled by the crippling taxes Leofric had levied on the citizens of Coventry. After she repeatedly asked her husband to lessen the burden, Leofric quipped that he would lower taxes only if she rode naked on horseback through the center of town.

Lady Godiva is a painting by Edward Henry Corbould

Determined to help the people, Godiva stripped off her clothes, climbed on her horse and galloped through the market square with only her long flowing hair to cover herself.  Before leaving, she ordered the people of Coventry to remain inside their homes and not peek.

From then till noon no foot should pace the street, 
No eye look down, she passing; but that all 
Should keep within, door shut, and window barr’d.

Lady Godiva, by Marshall Claxton (1850)

However, one lad, named Tom, couldn’t resist opening his window to get an eyeful. Upon doing so, “Peeping Tom”, hapless fellow overcome by curiosity, was struck blind. After finishing her naked ride, Godiva confronted her husband and demanded that he hold up his end of the bargain. True to his word, Leofric reduced the people’s debts.


Lady Godiva’s Prayer Painting by Edwin Landseer

While most historians consider her nude horseback ride a myth, Lady Godiva—or “Godgifu” as some sources call her—was indeed a real person from the 11th century.  Contemporary accounts of her life note that “Godgifu” was one of only a few female landowners in England in the 1000s, although they make no mention of a nude horseback ride.


Lady Godiva by Ethel Mortlock (c.1865–1928)

The story as we know it have first cropped up some 100 years after Lady Godiva’s death in a book by the English monk Roger of Wendover, who was known for stretching the truth in his writings now and again. The legend of  Peeping Tom became a part of the tale much later, in 16th century.

The Godiva myth was later popularized in paintings, songs and in verse by the likes of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who wrote a famous poem (quoted above) called “Godiva” in 1840.

Macaroni Art — Pastasutra


 Kama Sutra poses “Chopped Bamboo”,   “Magic Mountain”,   “Lying Lotus”,   “Sleeping Angel” and others recreated entirely from macaroni by  Sergey Pakhomov.

Pasta-artist (yes, he calls himself that way) Sergey Pakhomov from Perm, Russia) in protest against Facebook, censoring even the classic art masterpieces featuring nudity, created his own version of the Kama Sutra, using quite unusual media — macaroni. Boiled macaroni, I assume, since dry pasta isn’t pliable enough, although I haven’t found any references to the actual recipe.

The pasta-artist admits that he wasn’t all that much into the canonical Kama Sutra when he worked on the collection, but was guided primarily by his own experience and imagination. Just as any true artist should, I’m sure.




“Hidden Dragon”

“At some point, my friends began to complain that their posts, even with masterpieces of art, such as Rubens and Michelangelo, were removed, any hint of a naked body deem to hint on porn,” said Sergey. “Well, since I was already widely known in narrow circles (here Sergey uses mock expression widely used by Russians) as a pasta sculptor, I wanted to pillage these modern followers of the holy inquisition. Initially, it was not even a project, the name including. Just a couple of pasta figurines making love. I was sure that my posting of them would be removed and, possibly, I’ll be banned for a month or so. But half an hour passed, an hour, people seem to have understood and supported my venture. And then I crated some more pasta-sculptures. Later, the Erotic Museum of Yekaterinburg expressed interest and organized an exhibition of caricatures, featuring my Pastasutra among other works.” (my own rough translation from Russian here.)


Venus de Milo made of macaroni. This figurine is outside the Pastasutra project.

The past-Venus above is a standalone “sculpture”, just as this one, a macaroni caricature of a military guy.


Edible general

Currently, pasta-sculptor is working on a collection of macaroni-made retro vehicles.

Sergei considers October 25, the World Pasta Day, initiated by the World Pasta Congress of 40 pasta producers in 1995, as his professional holiday.

Should the pasta-sculptor consider switching to spaghetti, perhaps he might take up Pastafarianism as a religion. Just saying…


From Russia With Cyberpunk

cyberpunk2Cyberpunk, by Wiki definition, is a sub-genre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a “combination of lowlife and high tech” featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.cyberpunk3

The artist from Rostov-on-Don, Evgeny Zubkov, published series of cyberpunk works titled Russia 2077, where he showed what Russia would become in 60 years. In this reality, automation reaches the Russian province, but this does not save it from doom and hopelessness.


The holographic plaque reads “Dear tenants! On October 15, 2077 water supply will be disconnected.”  


Lettering on the container: Robot Recycling

Russia 2077 is a project that represents a parallel reality, where the hypertrophied images of modern technologies contrast with ordinary landscapes and everyday reality of provincial Russia, the decorations of which seem to be stuck outside of time. There is a social context [in my work]. In provincial cities, life seems to be frozen. Cars and gadgets are changing, but the environment remains the same for decades. I wanted to elevate this idea to the level of absolute, to the point of absurdity.  — E. Zubkov.

cyberpunk1The source of this post is an article in, titled, roughly translated from Russian,  The cyberpunk we deserve. Russian artist depicts Russia in 2077, but the future did not become any brighter.

Beautiful. Spooky.


Artist: Peter Schipperheyn, born Melbourne Australia 1955-  Title:  “Asleep”  carved 1987  Dimensions: 460 mm in height by 2020 mm in length by 800 mm in depth [life-size figure].  Medium: Carrara Statuario Marble.  Present location: Mt Macedon Cemetery, Mt Macedon, Victoria, Australia.

This beautiful sculpture is called “Asleep” and was created by Australian sculptor Peter Shipperheyn. The marble female figure is a life-size image of the artist’s wife. It was never intended as a graveyard monument, though.mogila1Laurence Matheson, Shipperheyn’s sponsor and patron, became so enthralled with the statue of Shipperheyn’s wife that he immediately purchased and brought it home.  Matheson died in 1987, aged 56. His widow turned her husband’s favorite sculpture into his gravestone, however unusual.

Sistine Chapel Recreated

1. Miguel Francisco Macias gazes up at his replica Sistine Chapel frescoes in Mexico City

Miguel Francisco Macias gazes up at his replica Sistine Chapel frescoes in Mexico City

  • Miguel Francisco Macias self-funded the project and worked with two volunteers at Perpetuo Socorro Church
  • He wanted to recreate the art after seeing it on a visit to the Vatican City and being blown away
  • Mr Macias painted 14 large canvases with the artwork before hanging them from the roof of a Mexican church 
2. Mr Macias visited the Vatican City in 1999 and was blown away by the art on show in the Sistine Chapel and was dismayed at the thought that those back home may not ever get the chance

Mr Macias visited the Vatican City in 1999 and was blown away by the art on show in the Sistine Chapel and was dismayed at the thought that those back home may not ever get the chance to see it

It took him and his assistants 18 years to complete the project, 14 years longer than it took Michelangelo to create the original.

3. How the actual Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City looks. It was painted by artist Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512

The actual Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. It was painted by artist Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512

6. Mr Macias and his assistants work from posters and books to recreate Michelangelo's masterpieces

Mr Macias and his assistants work from posters and books to recreate Michelangelo’s masterpieces 

Rather than paint the murals upside down like Michelangelo, Mr Macias painted them on canvas first before fixing them to the roof of the church.

5. Assistant Elizabeth Ramirez works hard sketching out one of the Michelangelo murals on to a 45-foot wide canvas

Assistant Elizabeth Ramirez works hard sketching out one of the Michelangelo murals on to a 45-foot wide canvas

4. Assistant Gustavo Moreno uses a magnifying glass to ensure that the detail is recreated on the large canvas

Assistant Gustavo Moreno uses a magnifying glass to ensure that the detail is recreated on the large canvas

Retired designer spends 18 YEARS recreating Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes – and says his look BETTER


Feed Lisa Some Stake

mona lisa.jpgHere are the latest “believe-it-or not” from the world of art and medicine.

Dr. Mandeep Mehra of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, for fun if no other reason, spent a year examining Leonardo’s masterpiece searching for a… diagnosis. In his opinion,  Lisa Gherardini, aka Mona Lisa, aka Gioconda, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, was not in the best of health when she sat for the portrait in 1503. Her mysterious grin, the smile that mystifies and charms people for over five centuries, might as well be caused by her health problems, Dr. Mehra believes.

Dr. Mehra points to many features in Da Vinci’s painting that he says are critical to his diagnosis.

The doctor says she had no eyebrows, a receding hair line, a lesion near her left eye, a puffy neck and swollen hands. These all suggest to the doctor a systemic physical ailment. (So much for timeless beauty so admired!)

“The diagnosis that I believe is operative here is an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism,” Dr. Mehra said.

Dr. Mehra suggests that the disease might have been provoked by an early pregnancy, as well as a lack of meat, dairy products and seafood in the diet.

“That is the thing about the Mona Lisa is that Leonardo da Vinci was an uncanny artist who depicted accuracy like no one else. He was an anatomist,” Dr. Mehra said.ML.PNG
Doctor believes Mona Lisa was suffering from thyroid condition.

This isn’t the first time lovely Lisa was posthumously diagnosed. In 2017, British art critic Jonathan Jones published a study in which he explained Gioconda’s smile as a symptom of syphilis. Jones pointed out that in the books of the Florentine monastery a record of certain purchase was preserved for posterity: Lisa Gherardini once bought acqua di chiocciole, the water of the snails, at the local pharmacy. At the time, this remedy was widely used to treat syphilis.

Poor Lisa.

Meet The Artist: Andrea Kowch

ак1.pngThe works of this young woman were described by professionals as a powerful voice of sensitive consciousness speaking in the language of folk symbolism. The artist from Michigan, Andrea Kowch, through the unusual images, shows deep, archetypal stories, relevant at all times.

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Andrea paints in a realistic style, using rural landscapes as metaphors for the inner states of her characters, mostly women. And, as in Hitchcock’s films, the scenes of her paintings are not what they seem: mysterious stories where their prequels seem to hide beneath the surface. Fictional world of the artist are intimate and wild at the same time: rabbits nest on the women’s laps, quails perched in their palms, moths land on blouses…ак20

Enchanting, truly. Wonderment to the imagination. Candy to the eye.

Many-a-women… Many, if not most of them, having essentially the same facial features. Is it the face of the artist herself? If this is, then there is worth saying that there is nothing wrong with Ms. Kowch’s wanting to paint her own features again and again, beautiful lady as she is. Her characters aren’t self-portraits floating against the realistically sur  backgrounds. Rather, it seems the artist resolved to inhabit her realistically sur-fictional world herself, all on her own (or, at most, share it with her twins) and rarely does she let anyone (or someone with different face) to enter and settle in it. And to a marvelous result at that. Envious?