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DSGN 376: Leonardo, Geometry, and the Art of Manufacturing

Quarter Offered

Winter : Friday, 10am-12:50pm, The Hive, Ford 2.350 ; David Gatchell and Matthew Cummins


In Walter Isaacson’s 2017 biography of Leonardo da Vinci, the topic of geometry is referenced over 80 times. The only drawings by Leonardo that were published during his lifetime were illustrations for a textbook on geometry. The artist’s final journal entry, written only days before his death, included attempts at a geometric proof.  A friend of the artist once lamented in a letter, “He devotes much of his time to geometry, and has no fondness at all for the paintbrush.”  What compelled Leonardo’s fascination with this subject?  In this interdisciplinary class, we will explore Leonardo’s geometric studies, using them as a vehicle for our own studies of artistic and industrial processes. Students will collaborate with artists, manufacturers, and technologists to produce sculptural objects in a range of materials. The course will culminate in a public iron pour in which we will attempt to translate several of Leonardo’s sketches into cast-iron 3D pieces using a historical furnace in honor of the artist’s work. Back to top