Today I was lucky enough to be invited to a private morning view of the Boticelli Reimagined exhibition at the V & A. I’d heard a lot about this exhibition, most of it in relation to the ‘Botishellfie’ opportunity at the end – a large sea shell big enough to stand in and recreate Boticelli’s famous image The Birth of Venus. I must say I was tempted to have one but didn’t think I would do the oil painting justice so I politely passed.
I felt priveleged to be in the V & A before it opened (I was there at 8.30 am and it opens to the public at 10am) and navigate through The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries through the sculptures and stone portraits. Passing through this area of the museum I am always reminded of the Vatican Museums and its insanely large collection of portrait and memorial sculpture.
The Boticelli Reimagined exhibition was a traditional exhibition format turned on its head, beginning with work from internationally famous artists and designers who were inspired by Sandro Boticelli’s work. It’s interesting that unlike many posthumously famous painters, Boticelli was actually lauded in his lifetime but then forgotten about after his death only to have his work rediscovered in the 19th Century. Since then his mythical and religious early renaissance era paintings have become cult icons of modern art.
I’m no art buff, let alone have much knowledge of renaissance painters but even I found myself recognising many of Boticelli’s paintings on display at the exhibition.
The first half of the exhibit had a contemporary focus and showed works from popular culture such as Lady Gaga’s Art Pop album cover designed by artist Jeff Koonst and highly inspired by Boticelli imagery, to pieces from a 1993 Dolce and Gabana Spring Summer collection patterned in Boticelli images and even a wheel inspired by a broach worn by the subject of one of his paintings.
This contemporary side of the exhibition not only showcased more commercial works that were inspired by Boticelli but also work by famous painters from Rene Magritte to Andy Warhol, and even pioneering contemporary dancer Isadora Duncan who sat in front of Boticelli’s work Primavera for four days in an attempt to understand its movement. The resulting taped footage is the only surviving moving images of her dancing.
This was an interesting way to introduce Boticelli, through iconic images shown in a more recognisable way before we got to the serious stuff – the room full of 50 original works by Boticelli himself. This room includes recognisable paintings such as Pallas and the Centaur and Christ the Redeemer, both strikingly beautiful to see in real life with wonderful colours that have been preserved well over time.
It was a different way of exhibiting something so seemingly ‘high brow’ but I think it worked really well as an accessible way to introduce people to such a renowned and beautifully talented painter.
Boticelli Reimagined is open until July 3rd. Find out more information at the V & A website.