Art History Trip: V and A and the National Gallery London

Wednesday 23 Mar 2016

By: Sarah Jones, Teacher of Art

The Art History trip provided a focussed look at the Renaissance, revision and re-evaluation for the Year 13s and an introduction for the Year 12s.

We were fortunate enough to visit the recently opened ‘Botticelli Reimagined’, which began with Ursula Andress emerging from the sea carrying a shell from the iconic ‘Dr No’ of 1962. Other contemporaries inspired by Botticelli included video art from Bill Viola, surreal stuff from Magritte and body mutilations/transformations by French performance artist Orlan, to name but a few. All had been inspired by the beauty of Botticelli.

It seems remarkable that Botticelli had drifted from favour and fashion after the Renaissance until the Pre-Raphaelites. Rosetti, with his penchant for redheads brought Botticelli’s ‘Portrait of a lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli’ from Christies for a mere £20 to adorn his house.

We were brought up to date with the stark white-cube presentation of the Botticelli’s hung thematically with powerful portraits, mythological narratives and religion explored through the Tondo.

Botticelli’s lyrical beauty was further explored in the National where we explored ‘Venus and Mars’, designed to be ‘displayed’ in a cassone. The over-riding message being ‘love conquers all’.

‘Real life’ always throws up some shocks and rocks expectations. Upon seeing the Seurat’s ‘Bathers at Asnieres’ we were amazed at the scale, texture and subtleties produced with the pointillist technique. Some enjoyed the wildness of the Tuner’s seas and skies whilst some preferred to meditate upon the calm ordered mathematics in Piero della Francesca’s ‘Baptism of Christ’.


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