Friday, September 4, 2015

The Botticelli Renaissance

24th September 2015 – 24th January 2016 | Gemäldegalerie - Staatliche  Museen zu Berlin  

5th March 2016 – 3 d July 2016 | Victoria and Albert Museum, London   

The Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510 ) is considered one of  the most important artists of the Renaissance. Countless reproductions  have been made of his works, with some creators add ing a slant or  “modern touch”, resulting in a work that has acquired a momentum and  trajectory in its own right. Many of these re-workings are so removed from  the originals that Botticelli has become a household name and can be used as a touchstone for fashion and lifestyle with out any mention being  made of his paintings. Products are named after him, popular-culture personalities allude to his motifs in fashioning their own image, and some of the characters portrayed in his works – particularly his “Venus” – are now firmly embedded in collective awareness. 

Yet our apparent familiarity with his opus was not inevitable. Sandro Botticelli was largely forgotten after his death, only to be rediscovered around 1800. From the mid-19th century onwards the Pre-Raphaelite movement in England and the  associated admiration of Botticelli were instrumental in the artist’s  resurgence, which caught the imagination of increasing numbers of artists  and a steadily growing public.

Since then, Botticelli’s work has been subject to wildly different interpretations and poses numerous questions.  How did the artist come to be so famous? How did he get to be a pop icon? Why are his paintings considered timeless and “European”, to the  extent that they even feature on Euro coins? One thing is certain: few old  masters can equal Botticelli as a source of inspiration for modern art and  present-day artists.   

The exhibition, which includes more than forty original works, explores a touching story of appropriation and appreciation th at began in the early 19th century and continues to this day. For the first time ever, Sandro  Botticelli’s works are presented in the context of subsequent interpretations and paraphrases. The 130 works on show will include many masterpieces of European art and important wor ks on loan from the  great collections of the world. Among them represented are Dante Gabriele Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Bill Viola. 

The exhibition also features drawings, photographs, videos, fashion and design objects. The visual aspect of the exhibition is largely a reflection of the partnership  between the Gemäldegalerie and the Victoria and Alb ert Museum. Since  the beginning of Botticelli’s comeback in the early years of the 19 th century  Berlin has possessed a significant number of the master’s works. The  largest collection of Botticellis outside of the painter’s own city of Florence  has always been housed in the Gemäldegalerie of the Staatliche – formerly Königliche – Museen zu Berlin, founded in 1830. 

Sandro Botticelli: Venus, 1490
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders