Last week ' Salvator Del Mundi' a painting which may or may not be by Leonardo da Vinci sold at auction for $400 million in the USA. For that sort of cash I'd expect Leonardo to be reincarnated and pop over for a cup of tea and recount a few witty anecdotes about the Renaissance while he did my portrait. I may be getting a bit cynical in middle age but methinks that it all smacks of someone with plenty of money for 'look how rich I am' trophies but no real love of art.
And the beat goes on: At sixteen I left school with no idea of what I wanted to do except become a rock god or an artist or a combination of the two. I was an apprentice electrician until the firm went bust and I then worked briefly in a number of jobs, so within eight months I was back in full time education vowing that I would get the qualifications that I should have worked a little harder at getting the first time 'round. I'm not sure that I saw much in the way of 'art' at this time; album covers and comics would just about cover it. Anything else would be seen in my growing collection of books and on the telly with series like John Berger's 'Ways of Seeing' and Kenneth Clark's 'Civilisation'. I split my passions almost equally between drawing, thrashing the guitar (I was a bass player by now) and reading pretty much anything but mostly science fiction and horror.
I suppose I still had a romantic view of what art was and still pictured my artistic heroes as tortured geniuses in Victorian garrets, suffering for their art. I'm pretty certain that I didn't think too deeply about what constituted good or bad art and derived much of my enjoyment from learning a new skill or technique. I would never call myself a naturally gifted artist and spent many hours practising drawing. It occurs to me that that's possibly what a reincarnated Leonardo could do, help me along with my drawing skills. A better use for his genius than being on the bucket list of some super-rich trophy hunter.