A tale of two Leos

Chances are, if you use the word “Leo” in a sentence, you’re referring to Leonardo DiCaprio. This is neither unacceptable nor unjustified. Leonardo DiCaprio has become quite the accomplished actor, catapulting his career with blockbuster after blockbuster (Titanic, Blood Diamond, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator and The Departed, just to name a few). But while “Leo” is indeed a contemporary starlet, I can’t help but feel our generation too often neglects his namesake, Leonardo DaVinci.

For example, how many USC students do you estimate saw DiCaprio’s latest triumph, Shutter Island? Now how many USC students do you estimate will go to see the DaVinci exhibit at the Getty? The fascinating collection of sketches and sculptures is on loan from Queen Elizabeth II, and is only appearing at the Getty for two months.

Drooling, I stared in awe at the sketches when I attended the free exhibit last Saturday. DaVinci was as eclectic as he was eccentric, and his genius is apparent even on his veritable scratch paper. It would be like if someone ripped the designated “doodle” page out of my notebook, then displayed it 500 years after my death. But I guarantee my one doodle page would not include sketches of war machines, horse musculature, profiles of nobles, gears, a furnace, cadaver sex (yes, you read that right) and drafts for landmarks. I’d be lucky if it included a childish sunset scene, a couple flowers and some song lyrics (written right-side up and left to right, not the cool DaVinci way).

I have an overdeveloped love for film, and DiCaprio is indeed one of my favorite actors, but I don’t want to see an appreciation for the rest of the arts die with the older generations. So this weekend, when the temperature at the beach suddenly drops below freezing (aka below 70°F), consider viewing the works of Leo, the elder. Whether you’re in it for the culture or the canoodling cadavers, you’ll be glad you did.