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Lecture - Art and Geoscience: Leonardo’s Landscapes


Although we take landscape art for granted today landscape art and even the idea of landscape didn’t really exist until the Renaissance when Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporaries invented it. In fact, Leonardo’s first work of art was a landscape drawing that showed the founding principles of the science of geology, 200 years before it was actually founded!  He and his fellow artists sometimes painted such realistic landscapes that even today we can use their art to study how flowing water and other geologic processes sculpt the landscape. Remarkably, there is evidence that Leonardo thought of landscape the way that doctors think of the structure of the human  body.  How can we use this information to appreciate the mysteries of Leonardo’s genius—and the landscape around us?


Dr. Gary Rosenberg is Adjunct Curator of Geology, Milwaukee Public Museum and Emeritus Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis. He is interested in understanding spatial relationships as revealed by the history of landscape art and the history of geological thought since studies of both reveal fundamentals about our understanding of nature.  In 2009 he edited “The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment” published by the Geological Society of America (GSA).  He has served as Chair, History and Philosophy of Geology Division of GSA and received the History of Geology Division’s Mary C. Rabbitt research award and Gerald and Sue Friedman service award. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He earned his BS in geology from The University of Wisconsin, Madison and Ph.D. from UCLA.

This event is made possible by the support of the New Mexico Academy of Science. Additional support is provided by the New Mexico Humanities Council and National Endowment for the Humanities.

$8 adults; $7 members; $5 students; includes $5 discount coupon to da Vinci exhibition
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