Botticelli Reimagined: London Exhibition Explores Painter’s Influence

Image: French artist “ORLAN” poses next to a photographic portrait of herself superimposed with Botticelli’s Venus at the Victoria and Albert museum in London, Britain, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – An exhibition dedicated to Sandro Botticelli opens in London’this week, looking at how the 15th century Italian painter influenced artists and designers though the ages.

“Botticelli Reimagined” is the largest exhibition of Botticelli paintings and drawings ever held in Britain, according to London’s Victoria & Albert (V&A) museum.

The display features more than 50 Botticelli works and explores how others have reinterpreted the Florentine painter’s art, from the Pre-Raphaelit’s to today.

Botticelli (1445-1510) is famed today for his Venus paintings, particularly “The Birth of Venus”, in which the blonde, nude goddess stands on a scallop shell. However his work was initially forgotten after his death.

“Botticelli fell, sank from sight for nearly 300 years. In the early 19th century he was rediscovered. The Pre-Raphaelit’s of course fetishised him,” Mark Evans, senior curator of paintings at the V&A, said.

“In the era of abstraction, Botticelli again receded into the shadows but, with pop art, he came out fighting and of course he’s now one of the most celebrated global phenomena in art.”

The V&A show is divided into three sections.

“Global, Modern, Contemporary” looks at the influence of “The Birth of Venus” – which remains in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery – and features works by artists Andy Warhol and Yin Xin, photographer David LaChapelle and outfits by Italian designer brand Dolce & Gabbana.

“Rediscovery” explores Botticelli’s influence on the Pre-Raphaelit’s in the mid-19th century with works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris among others.

The final section, “Botticelli in his Own Time”, displays the painter’s own works, including “The Mystic Nativity” and “Pallas and the Centaur”.
“Many artists have painted what I think you can call citational art, that uses famous past images as a starting point,” Evans said.

“We see this in the first rooms of the exhibition, where artists from far afield as Japan and Brazil use Botticelli’s imagery to tell stories very much of their own.”

“Botticelli Reimagined” runs from March 5 to July 3.

(Reporting by Jane Witherspoon; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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