L’Uomo Vitruviano – Between Art and Technology

The Gallerie dell'Accademia, a stately museum built in the 18th century in Venice, Italy, is already in itself a work of art that delights the eye and makes the mind go back centuries in search of small glimpses of an artistic reality that immortalized great masters.

It was November of 2010. I was anxious because for over seven years that piece had not been exposed. It was raining a bit, but not even the cold wind (that was nothing for a gaucho of the Pampas) would make me give up staying in line to see one of the greatest works of art of the genius Leonardo da Vinci. After a few good minutes queuing, there I was, in the Galleria’s Venetian Renaissance hall, that holds since 1822 one of the icons of Western civilization: the Vitruvian Man.
Leonardo’s interests for both art and science is represented in this famous piece in which two images of a man are contained in a circle and a square, geometrically balanced, and illustrating what Da Vinci believed to be a divine connection between the human form and the universe. Many Renaissance artists tried to trace what the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio conceived centuries before, but only Leonardo da Vinci fully accomplished the feat in 1490. Based on Classical Greek style of the fifth century BC, the Vitruvian Man is a work of art based on the principles of symmetry, proportion and order. When artists, writers and architects of the fifteenth century’s Italian Renaissance embraced the classic Greek style, leaving the medieval gothic behind, they turned to the philosopher Protagoras (490-420 BC), who coined the slogan the man is the measure of all things.

Contemplating Da Vinci’s work I could not help but noticing his contemporary: the relationship between technology, architecture and man remain as current as 500 years ago. Da Vinci had no idea he had created an icon that illustrates the relationships between distinct but complementary elements, in which the modern man is inserted and is centerpiece. Man in the universe of technology.

Technology and its endless possibilities’ circle, turning inertia into pure synchronous and uniform motion. Standing there in front of that historic picture, some words came to mind: innovation, legacy and timing. There seems to be some relations between these words and those which spend all day in the mind of a CEO?

Da Vinci showed, using the technology available in his day, that man, circle and square can express symmetry between disparate forms. The perfect harmony of calculations that generated innovation since the rediscovery of the mathematical proportions of the human body is considered one of the greatest accomplishments that have led to the Italian Renaissance. In the XXI century, the CEO is enveloped in the world of information and communication technologies, with unique tools at their disposal that allow them to paint with perfection pieces than its predecessors and competitors left incomplete.

La Gioconda’s - or Mona Lisa’s - enigmatic smile is perhaps what made Da Vinci famous. But his legacy that combines art and science was what immortalized him. All his new techniques, gadgets, calculations, tests and trialscompose his legacy. The proportions of the Vitruvian Man are still quoted today in architecture books. The legacy which will immortalize CEOs inevitably passes through the major example of connecting the disconnected: the Internet. It is increasingly the universe under which the CEO will reveal their LEGACY, the artwork that will immortalize them.

The Vitruvian Man’s square and the circle have the same area and are in sync with the man on the move. The apparent center of the figure seems to move, but in fact the figure’s navel, which is the true center of gravity, remains motionless. Likewise, the timing between business, technology and customers, without losing the center of gravity of purpose and human values, is another lesson that the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci is able to provide.

Innovation, legacy, timing…

Suddenly, a flash of camera hits and I realize that it was time to stop monopolizing the museum space and let other curious people contemplate and be enchanted by the genius Leonardo. I walk out and into the Grand Canal, marveled at the possibilities of a person willing to undertake the unprecedented and immortalize their mind’s creations.