Botticelli Reimagined

At the Victoria & Albert Museum


Spurred by the inclusion of Tomoko’s 2014 masterpiece featuring some of my key passions – Hello Kitty, affordable travel and anything Japanese – I thought a trip down to ‘the world’s leading museum of art & design’ would be a wise option and…I was not wrong.

To place you in the visual zone, the exhibition is broken into three sections with the curator making an interesting choice of working backwards, so you don’t make it to the Botticellis until the final area – but I feel this decision was above wise. You can’t avoid being amused, entertained, impressed and drawn further on and in. Botticelli’s with you all the time, regardless of the medium or creative interpretation utilised. It’s spelt out clearly – Botticelli’s impact has been colossal and doesn’t appear to be ebbing.

My favourite section…the first area…for it’s a great mix of works from around the beginning of last century up until today. There are artists that I was familiar with and others, thankfully now I’ve been introduced to. It’s just a great mingling of artistic responses which pay homage to the ‘Master’.

In an attempt to keep it brief (and keep you reading), I’ve cut my ‘best of’ list from this section to just four and included some visuals to delight you further.

I couldn’t not share this gorgeous Venus after Botticelli by Yin Xin (2008)

Yin Xin Venus after Botticelli 2008-2

And a super way to spend five to ten minutes is to hang out with Michael Joaquin Grey’s (2011) computer generated images – they morph before your eyes. They’re in constant motion, taking and giving to each other,  I’m assuming in an attempt to mirror and find perfect balance, perfect beauty.

Michael Joaquin Grey computer generated Botticelli

Then there’s Donnat al Caffe by Antonio Donghi (1913), which I adored as I love Hopper, (and now love Donghi), and I’m sure you can see the similarities too.

donna-al-caff-1931 Antonio Donghi

And my final list maker – sadly I had to knock Edward Baird’s 1934 surreal painting out of the pickings for this (sorry these), but I’m sure he’ll understand, for Ms Elsa Schiaparelli’s two divine 1938 gowns…sorry I don’t have an image…are exquisite, tiny, supremely embroidered and I’m so happy were included in the show.

Then the Mid Section: It’s all Arts & Crafts and sorry Mum, it really wasn’t my cup of tea, admittedly it was 18 years ago, so maybe in another 18 years yes. I just couldn’t stop noticing Jane Morris’s enormous hands.

Then the third and final section: A really interesting mix of original Botticellis and others from his workshop and during the era.

I loved the noses, particularly as there’s an assorted ethnic mix. And I came away with two favourites from this area – not noses – but paintings.

‘Ideal Portrait of Lady’ painted around 1475-1480 by Botticelli. It couldn’t have been titled any better. This lady and this painting were pretty perfect.

And from the workshop of Botticelli sometime in the 1480s – a phenomenal ‘Virgin and Child with the young St John the Baptist’ (I’m thinking that’s the title, though it might not be), with this particular virgin being the most exquisite of the species I feel I’ve ever seen. Her cheeks, lips and eyes were dare I say ‘heavenly’.

The exhibition runs until 3 July

(all images sourced at google images)