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Botticelli Reimagined

@ V&A Museum

Botticelli Reimagined @ V&A Museum

London celebrates Sandro Botticelli

The Victoria & Albert Museum presents Botticelli Reimagined, an exhibition, inaugurated this month and opened until July 3rd, which features more than 50 original works and about 150 reinterpretations of different artists including paintings, fashion, film, design, photography, sculpture and prints.

Some names? William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Rauschenberg, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. The project, curated by Mark Evans and Ana Debenedetti, is a journey in art history, which confirms the extraordinary impact the works of Botticelli - especially Birth of Venus - had on his successors.

Here are 10 news and curiosities about the Florentine painter and his works you should know.


#1 Fame is unpredictableAlessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli, was born in Florence in 1445 and became a painter. His two-dimensional style, his talent in mixing beauty and philosophical research, the particular features of his characters and the protection of the Medici family granted him success until his death, in 1510. His name is lost in oblivion for 300 years. In the 19th century Botticelli is rediscovered by the Pre-Raphaelites, thanks to an essay by Walter Pater, who recognise his importance, crowning him as a pioneer of the early Renaissance. The talent, the aesthetic taste and the Italian artist's paintings are still iconic today, so much that his influence has transcended all boundaries expanding to painting, film, music, literature and more.

#2 Sandro loves VenusSome swear Botticelli was homosexual. Others tell that the painter declared he would never marry and that the idea gave him nightmares. A third group argues that he was in love with his Venus, or rather the one who supposedly inspired her: Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, considered the most beautiful woman of the Renaissance. According to the legend, Sandro asked to be buried at Simonetta's feet in the Church of All Saints. It really happened when he died in 1510.

#3 "If Botticelli was alive now, he’d be working for Vogue" Peter UstinovThe female subjects of the Florentine artist embody an ideal beauty, with soft shapes, narrow shoulders and long and soft hair. His brush, like an archaic Photoshop, changes the woman's body to pursue a precise aesthetic. It's not so strange that designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Dolce and Gabbana or Fyodor Golan have been inspired by his work.

#4 Botticelli on screen. Cinema has also been fascinated by Botticelli. Remember Ursula Andress in bikini emerging from the water in Bond's Dr. No? Or a young Uma Thurman as Venus in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen?

#5 Isadora Duncan's Spring«I was in love [...] I remained there until I actually saw the painted flowers blossom, bare feet dance, their bodies moving, until an angel of joy did not come to visit me and I thought: I will dance this to send the others this message of love, spring and life that I received with much emotion. And it is my dance that will give them this ecstasy». That's how famous dancer Isadora Duncan explained her emotions in front of Primavera, a vision that confirmed her the need to get back in contact with the pagan spirituality through dance.

#6 From Magritte to ShermanBotticelli's images are so deeply rooted in contemporary culture they have been the odject of various interpretations. Some examples? In the Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and The Rights of the Man to His Own Madness Salvador Dalì invites to break the sanctity of artistic icons creating a hybrid between Venus and a fish. René Magritte, in Le bouquet tout fait, incorporates a fragment from Primavera on the figure of a man with a bowler hat. Andy Warhol dedicated a series of pop silk-screen printing to Venus, Chinese artist Yin Xin reinterprets it with Asian eyes while David LaChapelle turns it into a blond model flanked by two muscular heroes. In the series Untitled Film Still - specifically in Untitled #225 - Cindy Sherman dresses up as if she was the heroine of a Botticelli's painting.

#7 Lady Gaga as Venus. «Pop Culture was in Art, Art is now in the pop culture in me». The message is clear: Miss Germanotta wears a bikini with shells and turns into Venus in her music video Applause.

#8 Botticelli on IstangramChris Rellas, a young student at Georgetown University, has over 24,000 folowers on Instagram thanks to his irreverent retelling of classic paintings. There is also Botticelli, here represented by La Madonna Bardi holding a Hermès bag and the inevitable Birth of Venus with a piece of Australian designer Poppy Lissman.

#9 The iconoclastsWhen a work is very famous it is often the subject of irreverent tributes. The work of Sandro Botticelli makes no exception. The most indie? Venus hermaphrodite by Joel-Peter Witkin. Then there are the cartoon transformations by Tomoko Nagao, the street ones by James Rawson and Lorenzo Castellini's collages. And what about Venus version The Avengers or Muppets or even cat?

#10 Botticelli in the spaceOn the surface of planet Mercury there's a crater named Botticelli.