Press Briefing: Botticelli Reimagined

I attended my first press briefing this morning at the V&A, which was made all the more thrilling by the fact that it was for a major Botticelli exhibition. In the first show of its kind the legacy of the Renaissance master will be explored through art and media from the Quattrocento to the present day. Today Botticelli’s name is ranked among that of Raphael, Michelangelo, and da Vinci, but surprisingly he was largely forgotten about for centuries after his death. It was only when the Pre-Raphaelites rediscovered him in the mid-1800s that he became fashionable again, and it is from that point that he became ingrained to popular culture and the public knowledge. Due to open on the 5th March 2016 this exhibition at the V&A Museum will track the infiltration of the artist’s images through painting, design, film, and fashion. From Rossetti to Schiaparelli, Morris to Warhol, this unprecedented display of objects will provide a visual link between Botticelli’s masterpieces to iconic moments in popular culture. There will be particular emphasis on The Birth of Venus and Primavera, the two paintings which all of us know, but also an investigation into the artist in his own right. Described by the curators as an “adventure”, the gallery has gotten hold of 150 works (50 of which are by Botticelli) with which to tell the story. Working back from the 21st century to the 15th the first section will include a work by Rene Magritte, a Dolce and Gabbana creation and clips from the Terry Gilliam film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The next part will be dedicated to those artists responsible for resurrecting Botticelli’s status in the 19th century, notably Rossetti and Burne-Jones, the former of which owned Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli (1470-85). Ending where the story began, the exhibition will focus more on Botticelli himself, telling us more about the man responsible for what is still considered today as the image of the ideal woman. It was revealed that among his works will be Venus (1490s), Pallas and the Centaur (c.1482), and Virgin and Child with Two Angels (c.1490).

Spanning the centuries between the artist and us, the V&A will narrate the story through familiar visual material by artists who have responded to Botticelli. This long-overdue assessment of the painter will prove his enduring influence on all art forms, but also that there is much more to him than his visions of female beauty. It will show him as an innovator, as a trendsetter, and his relevance in a world which has reimagined him over and over again. This exhibition is set to be a blockbuster, and this sneak peak has got me very excited about what is to come.


Botticelli Reimagined, 5th March – 3rd July 2016, V&A Museum, London

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