Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.~Victor Pinchuk
For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #42, Ann-Christine asks us to visualize creativity–which we can easily spot in all types of design–such as architecture and fashion– and in the creative arts–from cooking to floral arrangements. But how do we define it? It’s curiosity, it’s persistence, it’s originality, it’s daring, and sometimes, it’s the stubborn insistence in a vision beyond the scope of anything we’ve ever imagined. This brings to mind of one of my heroes from the Renaissance, whose life and accomplishments define creativity for me.
Visitors to Florence often overlook this statue of a man gazing upward in intense concentration at his creation–the magnificent dome that crowns the Duomo (the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore). Filippo Brunelleschi should not be ignored. He solved an engineering and architectural puzzle that had confounded the greatest minds of Europe for over 100 years. His solution to this problem helped to usher in the Renaissance in Florence and changed the course of architectural history for centuries.
In 1418 when the Founding Fathers of Florence announced a contest to design the dome for the Duomo, they were flooded with applications. But an unlikely candidate, the goldsmith, Filippo Brunelleschi, offered a possible solution to seemingly insurmountable problem–how to create a dome that was split into 8 wedges, in keeping with the building’s octagonal design. It also had to cover a vast space and not collapse inward because of its weight.
A few years before, Brunelleschi, who was trained as a goldsmith, had lost another competition to design the Baptistry Doors directly opposite the Duomo. The winner, Lorenzo Ghilberti, basked in the praise of the great leaders of his day. But Brunelleschi was tenacious. His curiosity and genius extended to other fields. His study of architecture, mechanics and engineering helped him imagine a clever design, which incorporated two domes, one inside the other, which distributed and supported the vast weight.
Even though Brunelleschi won the competition, he faced other challenges. The Founding Fathers doubted there was enough wood in the Florentine hills to create a series of scaffolds to extend that high, so how could the heavy construction materials be hoisted up to the roof? Brunelleschi solved that problem by inventing a 3-speed hoist that was capable of safely transporting heavy weights to great heights. He faced other challenges–like the political scheming of his rival Ghilberti who was tasked with overseeing the construction of the dome with Brunelleschi. Somehow this man, this creative genius overcame each obstacle. In the end, he created a cultural icon that has dominated the Florence skyline for over 600 years and inspires millions of visitors (like me) with its beauty and graceful design.
Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of the ages. ―
Imaginative people from every era have had the important task of creating a cultural and historic record of their times, and establishing their place in the long history of our civilization through the ages. In Paris, the great Cathedral of Notre Dame which housed 900 years of history, of creative talent is France’s cultural icon. This week, as we watched in sorrow and horror as Notre Dame burned for over 15 hours, we were reminded of the fragility of our cultural icons, our cultural heritage. At the same time, we saw the determination of the French people and many citizens around the world to rebuild the cathedral and re-envision this masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
As I work on this post, I wonder which creative genius will step forward with a design for Notre Dame that will surprise and delight us with its originality, creativity, and beauty. Like Brunelleschi, the creative artist will solve a myriad of challenges that seem insurmountable to us right now. Like all of us, I am waiting for that creative vision of what’s possible.
In closing, I’d also like to thank our contributors for their delicious posts for last week’s challenge. Your posts were a visual feast! And thank you, Ann-Christine for this week’s wonderful “Creative” challenge.
If you want to read more about Brunelleschi, here’s a great article from The National Geographic Magazine.
All the images in this post were taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the Google Pixel 2.