tv Charlie Rose PBS October 17, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin tonight with president trump's press conference earlier today. >> i hope hillary runs. is she going to run? i hope, hillary, please run again! >> rose: we conclude with walter isaacson, the biographer of a new book about leonardo da vinci. >> he's a retruvian man and that's a symbol of an atonnishingly good science, proportions of human, start and science. that's leonardo. i think it's a self-portrait and it's him standing in the earth, the cosmos and how do i fit in. >> rose: funding for charlie rose is provided by the following.
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with a press conference today with president trump and mitch mcconnell soon after their meeting at the white house. we start with the "cbs evening news" report and here it is. >> now to the other end of pennsylvania avenue, the president called reporters into the rose garden today to watch him mend a fence. major garrett was there. >> -- despite what we read, we're probably now, at least as far as i'm concerned, closer than ever before.
>> after a white house lunch president trump and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell strolled to the rose garden to bury the hatchett. >> watch the same agenda. we have been friends and acquaintances for a long time. >> it was a change in tone from 90 minutes earlier when president trump told his cap net do nothing republicans were to blame for his stalled agenda. >> they are not getting the job done. >> mr. trump was echoing steve bannon who this weekend declared mcconnell an enemy of grassroots conservatives. >> and right now i.s.d. a season of war against a g.o.p. establishment. >> bannon vowed to back challengers to senate g.o.p. incumbents. >> the day of taking a few nice conservative votes and hiding is over. >> today the president sent mixed message about that strategy. >> so i can understand fully how steve bannon feels. i'm going to see if we can talk him out of that because frankly they're great people.
>> and the president looked ahead to his 2020 reelection campaign and said he was hoping for a sequel. >> i hope hillary runs. is she going to run? i hope. hillary, please run again. >> mr. trump was asked why he had not commented on the four u.s. soldiers killed 12 days ago in niger. he said he would call the families soon. >> if you look at president obama and the other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls. >> officials with presidents clinton, george w. bush and obama said they all called families of the fallen. o michelle obama's chief of staff said on twitter calling mr. trump's statement an explicative lie. >> thank you, major. >> rose: we continue with excerpts from the press conference. >> as far as tom marino, so he was a very early supporter of
mine, the great state of pennsylvania. he's a great guy. i did see the report. we're going to look into the report, we're going to take it very seriously because we're going to have a major announcement probably next week on the drug crisis and on the opioid mess of problem and i i want to get that absolutely right, this country -- and frankly the world -- has a drug problem. the world has a drug problem, but we have it and we're going to do something about it. so i'm going to have a major announcement on that problem next week. we're going to be looking into tom. the puerto rico situation is so -- because as you know. >> (inaudible). well, that's according to the clint's administration's head of fema it's been outstanding. puerto rico is very stuff because of the fac it's an island but it's also tough because, as you know, it was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit. their electrical grid was in bad shape before the hurricanes got there, not working. it was in bankruptcy, owed
$9 billion. on top of that, the hurricane came. now, you're going to have to build a whole new electrical plant system. we're not talking about generators. puerto rico has more generators i believe than any place in the world. there are generators all over the place. the fact is their electrical system was in horrible shape before and even worse shape after, so we are working right now -- as you know relief funds are in the process of being approved by congress, and that includes texas, by the way, that includes florida and it also includes puerto rico, the u.s. virgin islands, et cetera, et cetera. but it was in really bad shape before. we have done -- >> (inaudible). i will say this, we have done -- well, we've delivered tremendous amounts of water. then what you have to do is you have to have distribution to have the water by the people on the island. so we have massive amounts of water, we have massive amounts of food, but they have to distribute the food and they have to do this, they have to
distribute the food to the people of the island. >> rose: walter walter is -- war isaacson is here. he has written on benjamin franklin, albert einstein and steve jobs. he now turns his attention to leonardo da vinci. he calls his subject the person of the greatest amount of curiosity of any human who's ever existed. we'll talk about that. pleased to have walter isaacson wack at this table. welcome. >> good to be back. you're the only person who gives him a run for his money. >> rose: he was so much wiser and talented. i certainly don't pain nor draw. he does all these things that were quite amazing. how did this come about? how does one who has written a biography of jobs, einstein, franklin, come to leonardo? >> well, as you know, i have been at this table for each of those books.
>> rose: right. and i noticed a pattern especially after benjamin frank lib, people who are curious about i've thin, loves the sciences, ben franklin finds whirlwind when he's the coast. he loves the pattern. steve jobs ended every product launch with a slide that showed intersection of liberal arts and technology. people like that tend to be very creative. they love every pattern of nature, whatever it is. and the ultimate, the total ultimate is leonardo. so he was sort of the culmination. if you look at the back cover, there's vitruvian man, and that's almost your symbol of an astonishingly good piece of science. the proportions of human perfectly done, but also unnecessary beauty the way he does the shading, so it's art and science. that's lender o. i think it's a self-portrait and it's him standing in the earth, the
cosmos and how do i fit in. >> rose: how do you go about in search of leonardo? >> well, you know, one of the things i discover is he has more than 7,000 pages of his notebooks that we can still find. as you know, bill gates bought one of the science notebooks leonardo kept. paper is great technology. 500 years later you can still see a page in which he's doing a sketch for the last supper, then mathematical diagrams to scare the circle, then his old craggy warrior. and i thought, people who have written about lender o they usually approach him as just an artist and start with the 1 or so great paintings. i wanted to start with the notebooks and show the science, engineering and the lists. he had to-do lists every day in his notebook, things he wanted to figure out like why is the sky blue or what makes people yawn? that's why i called him so
curious. i started the notebooks and went day by day and week by week through the notebooks. >> rose: did you have access to materials nobody else have? >> bill have the codex and they're doing research on it. my wife kathy met a curator and we spent time at windsor. so it was fun doing in search of leonardo. >> rose: he would go to the cadavers and take the skin off. >> he loved anatomy. the interesting thing is he did a lot of dissections and he would take the skin off a face because he wanted to know how the muscles touch the lips and which ones come from the -- the nerves from the brain, which
nerves come from the spinal cord. and on, like, the tenth or twelfth page of one of these dissections of the human face, very light drawing up top of a smile, and you see him starting the mona lisa's smile as he sort of processes all of the art but all of the anatomy. >> rose: is he one of the people who thinks it's better to do a few things well than a lot of things good? >> yeah, to a fault he believed that. he had pictures you wish he had finished like the add regulation of the magi and others, but he let the perfect be the enemy of the good when he couldn't get it perfect and put it aside. so we only have 12 fully finished totally leonardo paintings. >> rose: he lived to his 60s, didn't he? >> yeah, he lived a long life. we have so many of his notebook
pages. his anatomy drawings show layer by layer of the human body. like ben franklin, he loved how things flowed. he loved looking at water flow into a pond and makes a swirl, why does it swirl? he dissects the heart and says it swirls because something goes from a bigger cavity to a smaller one and discovered how the heart valve works. he said, it's not pressure, it's because to have the swirl that spreads it out. so anyone who sees pattish of nature and combine it with curiosity i loved it. >> rose: let's talk about his early childhood. what do we know about his snarnts. >> he was very fortunate to be born out of wedlock. his father was a notary, grandfather, great grandfather. had he not been born illegitimate he would have been had to be a notary. he would have been a very bad
notary. he let the perfect be the ep my of the good most of the time. he also meant -- it also meant he couldn't get a formal education from the university so he became a disciple of experience. somebody would tell him why the sky is blue and he would do a water vapor thing to test it out and see. we see the beginnings of the scientific method because in this little down of vinci, he was born out of wedlock and didn't get sent to college. >> rose: did he think of himself as artist first? >> the beginning of my book the first chapter is called "i can also paint" because at i think at age 30, he had given up on the add regulation of the magi. he had done a couple of good paintings but wasn't that successful and decides to leave florence and go to milan. he invents a musical instrument sort of like a violin in the shape of a lion's head, he was a
cultural diplomat to the duke of milan. he writes a letter to the duke of milan, 11 paragraphs. the first ten is i can do engineering, divert rivers, build wonderful buildings, i can design weapons of war. only the 11th paragraph says i can also paint. so he tried to think of himself as an engineer. he was incorrect at that, even though he was a very dedicated engineer, he was at heart a painter. >> rose: a painter, yeah. florence was at heart of the renaissance. >> not only the heart of the renaissance but there are reasons for that. first of all the printing press spread there so an unlettered guy like leonardo wanted to learn something could get books. secondly, it was very tolerant. leonardo was gay, left-handed, hherher raheretical, et cetera.
florence was very liberal. they invented wonderful new fabrics, the science of perspective. so all the successful bankers, they needed to show they had good tastes as well as money so it was a good time to be an aspiring painter and fit into that tolerance, even people there the fall of the ottoman -- fall of constantinople coming from the east and bringing algebra, it was one of those moments like the bay area of california 500 years later where a lot came together. >> rose: who was baroccio? his teacher. when leonardo was young, maybe 12 years old, he gets apprenticed to baroccio's studio who was one of four or five sort of studios in florence that were becoming very successful because everyone needed to adorn their
new balances with madonnas and showed they were faithful and had good taste, but baraccio was part of the crowd they would just turn it out. but leonardo, the 12 or 13-year-old comes and changes the way they do things, so he becomes a painter and poses for so they know what he looked like as a kid. >> rose: was he a late bloomer? >> he stays as an apprentice to baraccio for a long time. after his apprenticeship should have ended. he's turning out a few madonnas. we're not sure which ones are fully his or by other people in the studio, but you watch as he paints, for example, the baptism of christ, and veraccio does some of the main characters, but leonardo does the river flowing in and the water flowing over the body and then the water of the river jordan rippling at the
ankles of christ and you see his love of that spiral pattern of nature. >> rose: what was his relationship with michelangelo? >> not good. not good. you may have known people who had younger rivals. michelangelo is about 20 years younger, and michelangelo was as anti-social as leonardo was social. leonardo had an enormous number of friends, he was always out and about. >> rose: almost had a possie as they would say today. >> yeah, he definitely had a possie of both students and, you know, friends. >> rose: and they traveled together? >> traveled together, musicians. michelangelo was very much of a loner, and we have a few scenes in which michelangelo -- i don't think leonardo, i think he probably thought michelangelo was fine, but michelangelo dissed leonardo in public a few times. >> rose: why did he diss him? oh, they were once in a discussion in the square and
michelangelo came along and leonardo asked him a question and michelangelo just sort of said, you answer, you fool, or something. it was not a pretty site. people recorded it. and michelangelo does david, you know, which is a huge statue, and leonardo's on the committee to figure out where to put it. and leonardo doesn't want to put it right in the main plaza of florence, and he wants to put a decent ornament on it as he calls it meaning a fig leaf over the genitals and that causes a fight. they both get commissioned to do paintings in the council hall in florence. the rulers of florence were smart and said, hey, this competition is good for us. both of them start battle scenes and both quit in the middle because they are so unnerved by the competition. >> rose: you think you wrote leonardo was very attractive sexually and romantically in every way to men, unlike
michelangelo was very fine with it. >> michelangelo is sort of the agony and ecstasy is written about him, he was very, very religious and felt uncomfortable with his sexuality. leonardo, when he first goes to milan, i told you he went with a musical instrument, he went with a young man who teamed to be his companion. later his companion was a guy whose nickname meant "little devil" and they were together 30 years so leonardo was quite open about having male companions. >> rose: he took the mon na lisa around with -- th the mona lisa around with him when he was traveling and work on it. >> yeah, the thing about him is he would keep paintings until he had it perfect. and the mona lisa was sort of the culmination of the painting
started around 1503. but when he dies, it's by his bedside because he's still putting the the tiniest layers of glaze. he used the science of optics to figure out the lips and the science of anatomy and he even knew that the light coming in directly to your eye hitting the center of the retina sees the detail, but in the corner of the retina sees th the shadow. so he's doing little glazes at the corner of the lips of the mona lisa so the details go straight but the shadows turn up by means as your eyes move across her face the smile flickers, it's an elusive smile. but this look layer after layer, year after year of the lightest touches. >> rose: was he the dominant presence culturally of his time? >> yes. by the end of his life he is indeed leonardo da vinci. he is known quite a bit as an
engineer. even though the accomplishments and flying machines never flew well. part was he was a theater producer. one thing i learned from his notebooks, he was underplayed as joseph pap and empra emprasario. he wants to make the stage look deeper so he knows how to do the angles sharper and the table tilted a bit and everybody doing very dramatic gestures and you see that in the last supper. what he does as a theater producer ties in to both his art and engineering. >> rose: did he know how great he was? >> yeah, i mean, he was pretty famous by the end, and he's fighting off all the richest patrons in italy, like the
isabella who wants per tore trait painted and said i'll pay you anything, but instead he does a cloth merchant's wife who he finds mysterious. a cloth merchant's wife named lisa, and never delivers it to the merchant, but he wants to paint the mona lisa for the patrons who pay him. >> rose: you say the notebooks are the greatest record of curiosity you can possibly find anywhere. >> absolutely, be all to you respect to this table, every week or so, he would make a list of things he wanted to know. >> rose: a to-do hist. a to-do list. one ofs this has why is the sky blue? why do fish go faster in water than birds in the air when water is heavier? ask the master of the locks in milan how they fix the dams when they don't close. how do they walk on ice in
flanders, what muscles touch the lips from the brain? and one of them, and describe the tongue of the woodpecker. that's when i paused. i said, wait a minute, who wakes up one day and says i want to know what the tongue of a woodpecker looks like. how would you know. >> rose: i kept coming back to it and discovered, well, the tongue of the woodpecker is interesting. three times as long as the beak, wraps around the brain, cushions the brain when the woodpecker hits and it sort of fit into his engineering and everything else. but the reason he wanted to know was not because of his engineering, it was because he was leonardo. he was so curious about everything that sometimes he just went off on tangents just because he wanted to know which is a great lesson. we sometimes forget that in life which is why do i need to know that or this would be useful for
me to know. in the end, there are things like the tongue of the woodpecker that's no use to you. not going to help you in your job. but like lender o you should do it out of pure curiosity. >> rose: why are fish faster in water than birds in the air? >> because, first of all, the gravity doesn't hurt them as much, the tail fins are bigger. when he does the tobias and the angel painting, he's holding a dangling fish, one of the tobias is, and all of these things show his fascination with anatomy. but i pause for a second when you ask that because i am impressed because all of a sudden you were saying, actually, i want to know that, just out of pure curiosity. >> rose: that's exactly right. leonardo discovers when he does it that the movement of air on the top of a wing is what keeps birds and airplanes aloft. so he discovers that from
comparing the flow of water to the flow of air. but once again, even though it helped him with his flying machine, i think he wanted to know out of pure curiosity. >> rose: he envisioned the flying machine. had he figured out from physics that this ought to be possible? >> well, he thinks it's possible. he does it first through the theater and then makes all sorts of human-powered flying machines. some look like a torture chamber you would find at the gym where you're supposed to use your chest, arms, legs, head, everything to move the wings and it couldn't be done. >> rose: can't get up enough speed. >> no one can use their own muscles to great the flap. >> rose: why can birds do it? muscles compared to body mass are different. he dissects birds and finds out. he tries to do perpetual motion, discovered why it can't be done,
human powered flying, discovers why it can't be done. a wonderful mathematically puzzle called squaring the circle which simply is can you make a circle the exact same sizes a square using only a protractor and ruler. can't be done because of pi being an irrational number, et cetera. but it's useful, and there is another lesson from leonardo is he tries to do things that are impossible and discovers why they're impossible. he pushes his horizons which we should all do. >> rose: would he be doing it if he was alive today? >> first of all, he would love artificial intelligence. he cared about how do we think what is consciousness, et cetera. he loved engineering, and i think he would have the notion of a self-driving car would have blown his mind. also because he was born the exact same year that gutenberg first started commercially selling, you know, books from a print shop, it allowed leonardo
to drill down on any topic that caught his eye. he would have loved the internet. >> rose: i was thinking about, sounds more like franklin than steve jobs, for example, yeah, like franklin he loved everything. >> rose: who wand to think about everything and made it work and also had a practical sense to him. but steve jobs also had a certain mysticism about him. he was always in search of the meaning of life. >> steve jobs had a spirituality and he loved leonardo da vinci and he would talk about it a bit. i think vitruvian man, as i say, is a spiritual drawing. that drawing on the back of the book, it was done because he and three friends were trying to figure out how do you design a church that has the same proportions as a human because that shows how we fit into the kaz mos and creation, and they read the ancient architect sri i
vitruvius and the drawings around that. >> rose: was he a leader? leonardo believed in science so he was skeptic at times. for example, he looks at fossils and writes, well, that kind of disproves the biblical account of the flood because they're in sediment layers at different times. he looks at the fetus in the womb, if you take the very opening of this, right there, a gorgeous drawing of a fetus in the room and the church of course teaches that it has a soul and he tries to experiment, does it have a soul? it doesn't breathe -- >> rose: yeah. so he's willing to scientifically question the teachings of the church. that said, he was believed in the beauty of creation and how we fit in and was a follower of the church at the time. he was just kind of willing to
question some of the church teachings which made others think he was a bit heretical. two of the great books are in the national library of madrid and they're miscataloged. after five centuries, somebody's looking up another book and finds it on the shelf and it isn't the book they're looking for and they verify -- not verify, it's clearly leonardo's notebook because he wrote in mirror script, he writes the wrong way on the page. it's clear what a geonardo notebook is, and there was his eng year ago and musical instruments. >> rose: did he play the flute or the lute? >> yes, he played, he was a court performer as well as the yachticle empra emprasario.
he invited something between a keyboard instrument and a stringed instrument which is cool because you get the best of both worlds and he used to be able to recite poems and plays accompanying himself on musical instruments along with three or four friends because it was before tell investigation and movies and that's what they did in the evening in the court in milan was they put on entertainment. >> rose: can you imagine anybody today who -- not who he would have been today with all the interest he would have in both -- certainly the computer age and the possibilities of that, but is there anybody today who reminds you of him by their flam bounce or multi-talent? >> leonardo amongst us -- >> rose: you can hardly think of somebody who painted two of the greatest paymentings d. >> and try to inviolent flying machines an want to be an engineer, et cetera.
>> rose: right. i like people who have been at this table whose interests are very diverse. steve jobs fits in that category. jeff bezos fits in that category. the more your mind wanders across different infinite wonders of creation i think the more you can be like leonardo, but the problem we have is both in our work and in the teaching of our kids, the university, we tend to specialize, we tend to put things in silos. we tend to say nowadays you have to do science and engineering and math, and you say, yes, but true creativity comes from somebody who both loves the beauty of a mathematical equation but also loves the beauty of a brush stroke because both of them paint one of the -- you know, sort of convey a glory of nature. >> rose: he had no interest in children? >> well, no.
he never had children, never had a relationship with a woman. he has a lot of nephews. he gave some of his property to his brother's children but he did not -- he was not a family man. >> rose: what if we found out about the paintings, with all the techniques that we now have, to understand a painting in terms of its composition and in terms of the age and nature of the oil? >> one of the interesting things that's happening this week and you will come back and see it at christie's, is the sale of this last painting in private hands, salvador munday and it's christ holding the crystal that's the orbit of the world. we were not sure that was a leonardo because it was in bad shape, be uh with the multi-spectral technology, you could see the underdrawings, you could see each coat, each brush stroke, you could see whether he was left-handed, you could see
if he put his palm print which leonardo did in the primal code to blur things, so that helps us understand. we can learn so much about the paintings in the past ten or 20 years with the new technologies. >> rose: where do you put the mona lisa? >> i think the mon monaa lisa ie ultimate. i had the good fortune to talk somebody at the louvre into saying -- you've been there, right? >> rose: i've seen it in the room by myself. >> i think there are two or three others with me, i'm not quite at that level. but you got to spend time. >> rose: yeah. and suddenly you see this is a cull mu nation loving life, all aspects of nature. one of the themes of his work is how the curving waters of nature are like the veins of the earth and they connect to our veins
and you see that with the river coming into the mona lisa. if you look at the one in the national gallery done while he's young has a river, a cloth merchant's wife in three-quarter profile. but when you get to the mona lisa, you see what a lifetime of studying aname my and -- >> rose: coming to. comes together. and there are biographers of leonardo of the 20th century, like kenneth clark in the '30s and '40s, he will exalt the mona lisa but will say something like it's a shame he wasted so much time doing math and geology and all these things that didn't work, and i think the mona lisa answers that crime simple with her smile because she realizes it's only after a lifetime of just loving every pattern in nature, things that you and i can do which is just be more observant and love the patterns in nature, be curious about -- you know, he would walk around
with his notebooks in florence and he would see a smile form on somebody's face, and if his notebook he'd say let's try to imagine all of the emotions. he does that with the last supper, all 12 apostles, how do the gestures hit the emotions? so in this mona lisa even though it seems like a pretty still picture, there's almost a dramatic narrative as you can watch the smile flicker and the emotions come to the surface as the earth and creation connects with her. >> rose: who commissioned the last supper? >> the last supper was done by the duke of milan. as i said, leonardo does a job application and in the 11t 11th paragraph he says i can also paint. i think the duke of milan about ten years after leonardo arrives, realized the frying machines weren't going very far, he says i want you, because i have the small refractory in
this church where the monks eat, i want you to paint a picture of the last supper on the wall, and he wants it in perspective so that it makes it seem like it's connecting to the room. so one of the cool things about the last supper is not just the paint bug seeing it in the room, even being in that room, and there's a window to your left on the wall. you look at the painting and the light as if it's coming in from that window. and even sort of the multiple perspectives, because one of the things leonardo discovered, knowing all the science of perspective, is if you're standing right in front of the picture, something on the ends will be slightly out of what can. if you're standing at one end, it will look different. so he has gimmicks and tricks where he knows the laws of herspective but then bends them so that the monks coming into that room start with the hand of christ, reaching what is the eucharist, reaching for the bread and the wine, just after
he said those frightening words, one i don' of you shall betray d you see the emotions rippling out as the perspective of the monks come. if you're in the room, you look to the left, there's a window and you see it's a fake -- not a fake perspective, but an accelerated perspective, like somebody who had designed a theater set would have done, because those lines go back a little bit too fast, but that makes it look deeper, and it's a narrative because jesus has just said up with of you shall betray me and as your eye moves, you see almost the sound waves hitting each of the groups of three of the apostles saying is it me, lord? you know, and looking in shock. so instead of being a still moment, what you have if that picture -- what you have in that
picture, like every picture of leonardo is a narrative drama that connects the motions to the emotions. >> rose: all right, take a look at the next one, this is the perspective lines. >> you can see how he understands perfectly the science of perspective, but he's got to worry people coming in from what's on our right, so he can fake the perspective a little bit when he needs to, but it's important because one of the great things that happens in florence at that period when he's growing up is architects, mathematicians and artists are all working together, and they kind of figure out and codify the science of perspective, which means berno less difficult and alberty can do the doors and it's all in perspective. >> rose: salvador munday is the next slide. we just talked about that. >> salvador munday is the one
that will be going on sale at christie's on november 15th, shown this week in san francisco. the one that was discovered, i mean, it has been around for a long time, but only in the past ten years has it been authenticated as the original because we have many copies of this, it's the one leonardo drew. >> rose: is it in private hand? >> it's in the hands of a russian oligarch but he's putting it up for sale at christies and we can do a telethon tonight and have people come in. i think it will go for 125-, 150-. >> rose: who's the name of the oligarch? >> i don't know him. i'll point one thing out, first of all, he blurs the science because, in reality, we don't see sharp lines, so the face of jeejesus is blurred, the lines. the curls, that's the pattern
leonardo loves the most, have the luster on them. you look at the right hand giving the blessing, it's sharper, it's in much more focus, the lines are more delineated. why? because leonardo knew if something was closer to you how the science of perspective made the lines look sharper. so if you look carefully, it looks like the hand is coming out at you. then the weird thing which i'm not totally sure why it is, he's holding a crystal orb. there are three beautiful inclusions in it because he knows all about crystal and he gets the science exactly right, but if you look, there's something wrong about the science. jesus' robes should be inverted and distorted. if you look through this water glass and i put my finger here, things are distorted, why does leonardo make it perfect as opposed to the distortion that would come from a glow? could be because he didn't think about it. no. i read the notebooks. he was doing optics.
he knew exactly what the distortion would be. maybe it was because he thought, well, that will be too distracting. that might be the reason is, but i would like to think the eason, is in a subtle way for those of who know it and get it, he's showing it's a miracle christ holding our world as the savior of the world is a m miraculous things so there's no distortions. >> the turn portrait. some people think that is leonardo. >> it's actually older than i think leonardo was at the time, so i think we know leonardo drew it, but i think -- >> rose: but did he have a beard like that? >> he did have a long beard. he was beautiful and unshaven face when he does vitruvian man and standing spread eagle in the circle and square. but in his late 30s, he has a beard and we see lots of portraits of him with a beard.
that's an iconic portrait of him. i think he's doing it not just of himself but a more universals picture. >> rose: the next slide is it mona lisa. >> yes. look at the lips carefully. you see the shadows turn up but the detail of the lips turn down a bit because he dissected the human eye enough to know how the retina processes and the center of the retina details and the edge of the retina shadows. that's an oversimplification, but it means as your eye wanders across her face, the smile flickers observe and off. she's reacting to us. it's the first example of virtual reality where it's an interactive painting. once again, you see the wonderful rivers from the eons of time finally flowing into the human veins, you see the lustrous curls and, of course, the eyes are so intense and emotional and it's the mona lisa effect, the eyes follow you when you move around the room. >> rose: did he like
portraiture more than anything? >> yes, but i think he liked dramatic painting and i think his two greatest are probably the ones he would like the most the last supper and mona lisa. >> rose: where was he ranked as a painter in the end? >> to me he's the most creative painter because he connects emotionally and is doing new things, the science will have perspectives, the blurred lines which really capture reality, understanding how to eye works, understanding the science of perspective. also he was so observant that when he would see somebody he would sketch in his notebook. he would sketch faces and say not only notice their emotions and gestures but how they connect to their emotions. so he's an emotional painter. it's hard to compare a picasso who is also a ground-breaking, amazing painter, but leonardo, i think, does more to connect all of art to the creativity that
comes from understanding the patterns of nature of anybody in history. >> rose: did he and michelangelo ever sort of -- i mean, 20 years difference? >> yeah, and when they're painting paintings at the council hall, one on each wall, both battle paintings, they were doing it actually in studios but also bringing it to be murals on the wall, they were figuratively and probably literally looking over their shoulder at each other, but then michelangelo -- michelangelo is more of a sculptor. >> rose: yeah. and all of his paintings -- the sistin sistine chapel -- the very sharp lines the way a sculptor would do. leonardo looked down upon that pausbecause as i'm looking at yu
and i hope people become more observant by studying leonardo, when you look at a person's face, you realize there is not a sharp little line there. we have two eyes and shapes a curve so we see the shadows caressing the shape. this is what leonardo does in his notebook page after page, so he really dislikes michelangelo's sharply delineated type of design drawing and, instead, believes in this notion of somato, where you see the curves and the shadows caress objects in a not sharply delineated way. >> rose: how tall was he? he was known to be very graceful. i don't think he was quite six feet but i think he was taller than average. he road harris beautifully well. when he walked the streets, everybody noticed him, a, because he was a dandy dresser, but also he was very physical. he exercised a lot. you look at the man in sr vitrun man you see the muscles in the chest.
he was known with the curling and flowing locks, he was called well-proportioned and, you know, strong. so he was strikingly and notably good looking because most contemporary writers, that's the thing they mention. >> rose: does he -- did he write other than, you know, in terms of scientific curiosity? did he write essays on man and -- >> he wrote fantasies, he wrote stories about storms. some of them i think because maybe i'm overdoing this a bit, but so much of it starts off as a theatrical producer that a lot of the drawings about storms come from him performing in court. he wrote 12 treatises, one on the science of art, one on shadows and optics, one on the flight of birds, one on mechanics and engineering, but he never published them, which is a shame because the printing press had just come in to being,
but like with his paintings, you said sometimes why didn't he give up the paintings? why did he keep them? why dud he let the perfect be the enemy of the good? he never fully got his treatises polished enough to send to the printer, which made it fun to me because i got to go around to these place and find them. >> rose: it's an interesting process here. you talked to a lot of people. this is a book written with your own curiosity. >> the cool thing about it is you get to meet -- martin kemp of oxford, one of the people who authenticated salvador munday, or people who get to work with them and discover things about leonardo's mother, now this year we know who the mother is. i was at the metropolitan museum, so the people who love leonardo are the people you want
to meet. >> rose: your purpose was not just to research but to ask them questions. my understanding is you were interested as to whether you were on the right track or not. in other words, you were testing your own curiosity or your own assessment. >> right, and i would read things in the notebook and say -- wait, this helicopter, he was doing a play where the angels have to come down, wasn't that what the helicopter may have been for? so you want to question people. but also the last chapter of the book -- i sort of do learning from leonardo, which may seem -- >> rose: what was that about? well, it was about the fact that, as i was going through it, i was figuring out some lessons i wanted to learn, and one of them was he just made this list, as i say, every week, but he'd say, ask so and so to give me the measurements of the sun. ask so and so how they, you know, fix dams in milan. ask so and so how they walk on
ice in flanders. so he was always finding people, the type of people you would have at this table, and saying here are the questions i want to ask, and he put them in his notebook what he wanted to ask. so i said, okay, i'm going to try to be more observant when i walk through the park and see light hitting a curved object. i'm going to be hour curious about the obvious things like why does water swirl when it falls into a pond? and i'm also going to ask everybody i can questions because there must be 200 lines in his notebook that begin with "ask" so ando about this. >> rose: the leonardo drew four right triangles with bases of different lengths, inside fitted a rectangle, shaded the triangle and made a chart with boxes related to each rec rectae
and below tried to describe what he had done obsessively over the years and used geometry to understand the transformations of the shapes. >> you want to transform one shape into another of the same size. he does it as a young kid, he does it on the very last notebook page we have and, to me, you see vitruvian man, the circle and the square, the mona lisa. everything comes from caring about how shapes transform. >> rose: april 23, 1519, eight days after his 67en birthday, leonardo had last will and testament drawn up by a notary, witnessed and signed. he had been ill and realized his final days were approaching. it was known to all persons present ant to come that the court of our lord and king before ourselves and person leonardo da vinci, painter to
the king duly considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of us tomb in his will he commended his soul to our lord mighty god and the dplorrous virgin mary, but that seemed to have been merely a literary flourish. his scientist led him to adopt in heretical things like the fetus in the woman -- >> the last page with the right triangles ends two thirds down the page with a phrase "but the soup is getting cold." you can imagine him in the bathroom, office upstairs, chateau in france, all his students waiting, matt tourain is his cook. he's trying to this impossible problem but knew the soup was getting cold, his days were
numbered. his last day at princeton hospital, there's einstein, he pulls out his notebook and writes line after lines of equations trying to get the unified theory to tie together gravity and electromagnetism and other forces. >> still waiting for that. people to square the circle. but the fact that on their death bed they're still trying to do these problems that fascinated them. that was just inspiring to me. even though the soup was getting cold. >> rose: and finally, be open to mystery. that's a little bit like steve jobs. >> absolutely. >> rose: be open to mystery. the only thing in each of those things is not just a list, i try to give the examples under each lesson, of things he did to, you know, explain how that's done and how he did it in his life and, you know, when i was growing up in louisiana, mentor, percy the great novelists, he said two types of people come
out of louisiana, preachers and storytellers. he said for heaven sake be a storyteller the world has too many preachers. so as a biographer, you're just trying to tell a story. but whether it's any story that's ever been told, there are certain lessons that come out of it, and you try not to start with the lessons, you try to say where is this going to lead? but with leonardo's life, it was so filed with lessons and it remind med of einstein, it reminded me of steve jobs, it reminded me of ben franklin. so i thought, okay, what leonardo did so well by being so curious, he saw patterns, like how squirrels form in curls of hair, the heart, water, whatever, he loved the beauty of patterns from cross disciplines. so what i tried theo do, because in some ways this is a culminating book. i mean, i'll write other things but there's no mountain higher
than leonardo da vinci, that what i tried to do is say here are some of the patterns now i've observed because steve jobs is really different from albert einstein, ben franklin and lender o but there are certain patterns that emerge that leads you not just to be smart but to be imaginative and creative and curious. >> rose: have you ever for a moment thought about writing a biography of christ? >> now, i -- >> rose: for a fleeting moment? >> yeah, i think there are people who would be better at both the historical jesus as well as, you know, christ the savior. it is an absolutely fascinating topic and there are so many good books written on it. >> rose: so you haven't for a moment. >> no, it's not open my bucket list. in fact, i think i -- leonardo da vinci, to me, was the cull
mu nation of this series of things. so i would love to write more but i'm not going to try to do another grand, historic figure because i think leonardo weaves together everything that connects the art, the science, the faith, the spirit of everybody i've written about so far. >> rose: the book is called leonardo da vinci, walter isaacson, as i understand it from reading the press, it's been sold to the movies, and there's some idea that leonardo dicaprio's name is attached. can you confirm that? >> i'm not a big unser of how hollywood works. i was happy leonardo dicaprio's production company and studio, i'm glad they acquired the rights because i think leonardo dicaprio if he choosings to do this is somebody who cares about science, loves the jiermt envir,
has a feel for nature, is a performance arter but loves painting, so you want smo someone with a passion for the subject but i have no idea how it will end up being made or if it will be. >> rose: thank you. thank you, charlie. >> rose: thank you for joining us. arlierose.com.g andit usm and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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