New Review of The Da Vinci Globe (Professor Stefaan Missinne) by map curator (retired) Newberry Library: Robert Karrow

Please see below for excerpts from Robert Karrow’s review of Dr Stefaan Missinne’s The Da Vinci Globe: a thoroughly well-researched and comprehensive biography of one of history’s most compelling artifacts.

“Missinne demonstrated quite convincingly that the Ostrich Egg Globe (OEG) was actually the original pattern (lost for 500 years) for the mold in which the Lenox globe was cast…And now, five years later, after what has clearly been a huge research undertaking in which he travelled widely and apparently spared no expense, he is back to proclaim that Leonardo da Vinci was, in fact the one and only author and fabricator. There is a good deal to be praised here: Dr. Missinne has obviously devoted himself to his task, tracking down many obscure sources, subjecting the globe to many scientific tests, and providing dozens of high-quality photographs of both the OEG and the Hunt-Lenox globe, as well as numerous color photographs from Leonardo’s notebooks and manuscripts. The microphotography is superb…The book positively bristles with documentation, as if every citation, no matter how little it bears on the OEG, serves to bolster the case for Leonardo as author…Dr. Missinne is a very lucky man…I’m not an expert on ostrich egg art, but I’ve looked at a great many early maps and to my curatorial eye, it “looks right.” I see no explanation for the uncanny concordance of the OEG and the Lenox globe other than a cast made directly from the OEG before the halves of the egg were cemented together. I even find the argument for Leonardo’s authorship pretty convincing, especially given his known experiments with casting metals and the extraordinary depiction of waves (quite unlike the water on any other map I know of, and reminiscent of his other depictions of water and human hair).” 

– Robert W. Karrow Jr, map currator (retired) of the Newberry Library, The Portolan, Spring 2019 pp. 60-63

For the full review: please purchase a copy of Issue 104 of The Portolan from The Washington Map Society (linked below)


Call for Papers: 2019 Conference on Mexican Muralists: Their Art, Their Lives, and Their Times

Professor Roberto Cantú is the editor of five books with Cambridge Scholars Publishing, An Insatiable Dialectic: Essays on Critique, Modernity, and Humanism (2013), The Willow and the Spiral: Essays on Octavio Paz and the Poetic Imagination(2014), The Reptant Eagle: Essays on Carlos Fuentes and the Art of the Novel(2015), Equestrian Rebels: Critical Perspectives on Mariano Azuela and the Novel of the Mexican Revolution (2016), and most recently Border Folk Balladeers: Critical Studies on Américo Paredes (2018).

We are delighted to share news that Roberto is accepting papers for a new conference on Mexican Muralists. Remembered as the iconic los tres grandes in Mexico’s pictorial movement that surged after the 1910 Revolution, José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), Diego Rivera (1886-1957), and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) were in fact artists with an international vision who periodically visited, or lived for long periods of time, in France, Italy, Spain, the former U.S.S.R, and the United States. It was in major U.S. cities–Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and, among others, San Francisco–where all three undertook mural projects whose artistic importance continues to receive scholarly attention to this day, with recent comprehensive studies superbly illustrated in Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950, ed. Renato González Mello, et al. (2016). The “three great ones” are conventionally remembered, however, as the expression of Mexico’s post-revolutionary nationalism, and as artists whose murals achieved their own moments of public acclaim, monumental scale, and–after 1940–an alleged artistic and ideological obsolescence in Mexico as well as abroad due to the association of muralist art with socialist realism. The historical necessity of such views can be explained in light of the Cold War, the growing fears of communist “meddling” in the internal politics of Mexico and the United States, and the ensuing politicization of the arts (“socialist realism” versus modernism). It was in this belligerent historical context that Mexican muralists lived, dreamed, and painted the western democratic and socialist utopias according to very personal and contrasting views, flawed at times by the selfsame contradictions that defined the tensions and political aspirations of the twentieth century.

For the full Call for Papers, please click here. The deadline for a 250-word abstract is January 14, 2019. The submitted abstracts can be in Spanish or in English. Submissions will be peer-reviewed and their acceptance or rejection will be communicated by e-mail on or before January 16. Send abstracts to The proceedings of the conference will be considered by Cambridge Scholars for publication under Roberto’s editorship. 

A new review of The Da Vinci Globe by Elisabetta Gnignera

The recently published reference publication by Cambridge Scholars Publishing with the Title: The Da Vinci Globe by the Belgian Prof. Dr. Stefaan Missinne, Da Vinci’s expert cartographer, breaks new ground.

Based on a very sound methodology, Missinne offers irrefutable evidence for Da Vinci’s authorship of the so-called ‘Ostrich Egg Globe’ dating from 1504 and for its identical twin, the Lenox globe a the New York Public Library.

By investigating in detail the miniature globe engraved on an ostrich egg, Missinne extends his analysis not only to the technical peculiarities of Leonardo Da Vinci but also to the geographical and social context in which this artifact was conceived.

Through a cross-examination of the documentary sources together with autograph annotations of the Tuscan Master concerning, among others, particular chemical devices (detection of arsenic in a metal droplet, consistently with Leonardo’s anti-corrosion method) and mathematical proportional studies and geometrics contained in Leonardo’s codices traceable in the globe itself, Missinne weaves a dense network of evidence that leads him to identify the author of the globe as Leonardo da Vinci.

Following Missinne’s findings,  we learn that the Tuscan master not only knew about the discovery of America, but he also made a preparatory drawing dating from around 1503-1504, kept at the British Library (Codex Arundel) and evidently used for his globe, as he described it in the Codex Atlanticus.

I enjoyed this book very much and I therefore recommend it to anybody interested in the life of this universal Italian genius and author of the oldest globe to depict the new World.

Book Review: Current Streams in American Art Education

Art education is not among the primary concerns of the educational system. One of the difficulties, if it may be called so, is the great variety of arts in which one can be educated. The history of art itself is fragmented. Furthermore, modern technology has led to developments toward cinema, photography, video and visual arts of a technological type. We should not forget that all the arts have a rather complex technological base, so much so that the word “art” comes from the action of the artisan, i.e. “someone who can use the proper tools”. As Elena Polyudova observes, though, in all times and today as well peculiar generational features exist and some educational factors are typical of a specific historical period.

Thanks to her Russian origin, the author can observe the educational system from the outside. She tries to define and confine it in order to study it in depth, thus enacting a process of epoché and allowing for a suspension of judgement. Aiming for a better understanding, the scholar decides not to compare two different systems but just to describe the American system of art education. She immediately places it in medias res by considering only the sociological approaches of the new century. This position allows her to immediately approach the aesthetic experience currently present in the U.S.A. and, through it, to look at socialization and visual culture appearing as the new generations’ main features, and also to include what the scholar calls “museum pedagogy”.

The difficulties in choosing a school for one’s children start from pre-school education (for both fees and programmes). The systems most frequently found on the market for this age group are Montessori and Waldorf. Additionally, school services for early childhood are dissimilar from place to place. In more urbanised and richer areas there is a wider array of pre-school services (and they may also be specifically tailored for different cultures). In other cases there is a more limited offer even as regards the vehicular languages, English and Spanish. The use of specific words also clarifies the tendency to have an umbrella term such as “visual arts”, comprising drawing, painting, sculpture and other forms of crafts. “Performing arts” is another term that includes several types of performing activities (dance and theatre). Then there are “musical arts”, namely instrumental music and choir. All these forms are present at all levels of the educational system.

In the current world, the boundaries between disciplines and skills are no longer rigid, but depend rather on objectives and assessments that are transitory, constructed and revocable. Besides sizeable and flexible cognitive maps, an individual also needs tools to develop, enlarge and restructure them or to increase their powers of discrimination. All human knowledge, and therefore artistic knowledge as well, are subject to acceleration and globalization and consequently also to unpredictability, both in themselves as a whole and in their relations. The complexity of current society is generated by a fragmentation of specialist contents and a subdivision of the different disciplines with their contents, but a growing interdependency is becoming visible among the same disciplines. Education in the time of complexity is then very difficult and for students of every age and school level, cognitive opportunities have now multiplied and differentiated, exceeding the boundaries of any area of learning that the school may reasonably define.

In writing her book, Polyudova abandons comparisons and instead presents a study of the American system where she highlights constant change and focuses on the sociological changes occurring in education in the 21st century. The term “aesthetic experience” taken from Dewey was replaced by ideas such as socialization, visual culture and museum experience. We must not forget that art education is included in the standards of practical skills that are useful for general education and socialization. These standards view arts as interests in the scale of hobbies and supplementary activities present in daily life. As a result, the process of integrating art education becomes a pleasant time to be enjoyed, a bonus of skills for the practice of social adaptation.

Humanitarian subjects as well as the arts present a multicultural educational background whose main objective is creating a special educational context with a neutral topic to study. This is precisely where several issues collide, the first one being the ethnic origin of the different groups. The author examines the artistic training called California Art Standards, one of the examples that present a multicultural environment in the U.S. In California 30% of the population is non-native and made up of sixteen different nationalities. Here Polyudova (page 20) observes: “Not surprisingly, the Standards of this multicultural state modify the Federal Standards from the perspective of the state’s environment”. The reason for this is that performing arts provide children with a way of understanding themselves and the world, their personal experience is useful for creating and communicating through art. The point is the switch from the educational model based on the aesthetic approach (the contents), existing in the 20th century, to the social approach introduced by current standards. “Hence, modern American art education, current for the modern time, having deep and developed traditions in aesthetic education, is changing its direction toward using arts for teaching practical management and social skills in a multicultural society” (page 21). It is important for the teacher to become a facilitator who sustains the whole process of creativity and professional development and intertwines it as a support for the student’s personal goals. Many students use their creative potential in preparation for art college. Furthermore, a high percentage of high school students acknowledges that studying art provides some relaxed enjoyment in their otherwise stressful school life.

As a conclusion we can highlight how in her work Elena Polyudova suggests, with curiosity and intelligence, that we do not limit ourselves to assessing similarities and differences, since differences are often not relevant at first sight, and instead take a different perspective, that of the outsider who “does not judge and evaluate because his or her intention is to ponder on a system in an attempt to understand”. The author wants “to make a narrative analysis rather than give the reader comparisons” (page 1).

Reviewed by Mariselda Tessarolo, Senior Scholar of the Studium Patavinum and previously Full Professor of Sociology of Cultural and Communication Processes at the University of Padua

Current Streams in American Art Education is available now, and can be purchased directly from Cambridge Scholars by clicking here.

Editorial Advisory Board’s ‘Recommended Read’ – May 2018

This month, our Editorial Advisory Board member Professor Clara Sarmento has chosen her ‘Recommended Read’: one of our most exciting publications from 2017. Clara is currently the director of the Centre for Intercultural Studies of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, where she is a Full Professor with Tenure, member of the Consulting Board, and director of the MA programs in Specialized Translation and Interpreting and in Intercultural Studies for Business. She is a world renowned expert in the fields of Anglo-American and Portuguese literature and culture, anthropology, cultural and intercultural studies, and gender studies. Continue reading