A visiting scholar is connecting science and art through lectures this week on the CU campus.
Martin Kemp, a Leonardo da Vinci scholar and professor emeritus at Oxford University, gave the first of two talks at CU Wednesday in an over-capacity lecture room.
Before Kemp launched into his lecture about the relationship between the scientific models of nature and art, however, Kemp had the crowded room rearrange itself so every attendee could see the display screen.
“The words are no good; the images are OK,” said Kemp, encouraging people to fill in empty places on the floor.
He then launched into a three-part lesson on the common trends between art, nature and science. Geometrical bodies, splashes and folding were his three points of focus.
The event was co-sponsored by the art and art history department’s Visiting Scholars Program and the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
Karen Brooks, a second year graduate student in art history, is a part of the visiting scholars graduate seminar which brought Kemp to Boulder.
Brooks said after her class decided the topic for the seminar would be the interactions between science, technology and art, Kemp was the obvious choice to bring in to the discussion.
“He represents the epitome of his field,” Brooks said. “If there were to be one world scholar on da Vinci, it would be Dr. Kemp.”
Brooks said that in addition to the talk co-sponsored by her department, she and fellow students would be able to interact with Kemp for his entire 10-day stay in Boulder.
“We get to visit with him, talk one-on-one, even do dinner,” she said. “It really is a great way to learn.”
Throughout his talk, Kemp often referred back to the elements of science and nature in art as intuition.
“It is a fundamental instinct, which is distinctly pleasurable . . . it is interesting how motifs keep re-erupting in traditional ways,” Kemp said, because humans always come back to “scratching childhood itches”.
Although he touched on avalanches and ping-pong balls, Kemp did not mention da Vinci very often.
“I was a little bummed that he didn’t talk about da Vinci more,” said Elizabeth Duncan, a freshman studio arts major. “But it was still really interesting. I love folds.”
Drew Caschette, a sophomore open-option major, said he agreed the lecture wasn’t exactly what he was expecting, but the folds were the high point.
“I never knew that you could look at folds that closely,” Caschette said.
Kemp has written more than 25 books and over 100 articles and was a British Academy Wolfson Research Professor from 1993 to 1998. He also trained at the Courtauld Institute of Art and at Cambridge University in England, according to a CU news release.
His second lecture will take place on Thursday in the British and Irish Studies Center in Norlin Library at 6 p.m. He will also speak at the Denver Art Museum on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ana Romano at Analisa.firstname.lastname@example.org.