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Birth of Venus, 1984 (#316, Details of Renaissance Paintings)

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Framed Size: 41" x 53"

unique trial-proof hand-signed screenprint

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About the Work
About the Artist

About the Work

The “Birth of Venus” was created for the wealthy, Italian Medici Family in the 1480s, painted by Sandro Botticelli. “The Birth of Venus”, was the first non-religious nude painted since Classical times, and is seen as one of his greatest masterpieces, and the high point of his singular Early Renaissance style. As other painters of his time worked to heighten the realism of their paintings through developments in perspective, chiaroscuro and fully modeled forms, Botticelli focused on developing a more linear style to his compositions. His ‘Birth of Venus’ also evinced an unusual flatness to the forms as if the figures are in low relief rather than fully modeled. The rhythmic linearity of the piece, combined with the uncommon flatness, made it an appealing “ready-made” for Andy Warhol to work with and hints at the appeal Botticelli held for Warhol.

Warhol’s seemingly banal choice of Botticelli’s Venus for his print series is as complex under the surface as a Warhol ironically may be. It is a twist on a twist, i.e.: Botticelli’s work is said to be a recreation of the legendary work by the Greek painter Appeles, a combination of Appeles’s concept with Botticelli’s style and vision. When Warhol returned to it centuries later he spliced the image down to the area that “popped” – Venus’s extraordinarily beautiful face, and he accentuated Botticelli’s rhythmic linearity with his own trademark lines. The result is the epitome of an object of desire and the ultimate vanitas portrait. Warhol’s Venus is an ideal emblem of beauty, what we all want to be, to possess, or to consume, and yet the symbol of something that is doomed to fade and die – the exquisite beauty of a woman. By stripping away all but Venus’s face from Botticelli’s magnificent image Warhol takes us directly to the core of the goddess’s meaning and the driving force of consumer culture at the same time – desire.

The cultural connections between the Renaissance and the 20th Century were not lost on Warhol either, which edify his choices to work with the particular images that comprise Details of Renaissance Paintings. As the Renaissance brought what would later be seen as a momentous change to the lives of Europeans, through both a forward-thinking rise in science and inventions and a reaching back to the classical world for inspiration in the arts and letters, the 20th Century brought similar upheaval both culturally and in the sciences. As art patronage shifted from the monarchy and the Church to wealthy individuals like the Medici during the Renaissance, art patronage in the 20th century encompassed a much wider and deeper range of individuals.

As the century progressed, Pop Art re-drew the line in the sand yet again, weakening the boundary between rich and poor “fans,” encompassing more than the upper classes and “bourgeoisie” in it’s an appeal. By recreating Botticelli’s Venus in a print series, Warhol opened the door for this exquisite face to grace the walls of many collectors, not just one, and in a style that reflects its time, just as Botticelli recreated Appeles’s work to suit his time. Like any Warhol, there is more to Venus than meets the eye, and yet, you may choose to look at nothing but the surface and be just as satisfied.

“The Birth of Venus” is a 25 x 37 – inch unique trial proof hand-signed screen-print.

About the Artist

Andy Warhol is seen as one of the most prolific American artists of all time, whose undeniable influence proved him to be a leading figure within the Pop Art and Culture Movement. Warhol was a multitalented individual; he was an artist, filmmaker, producer, designer, and photographer. Warhol was born on August 06, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From an early age, Warhol was interested in the arts as he was often sick at home than at school. Rather isolated due to childhood illnesses, a young Warhol entertained himself by drawing and with other artistic hobbies. Eventually, Warhol graduated high school with aspirations to become an illustrator in the world of advertising. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the Carnegie Mellon University of Technology and moved to New York to pursue his creative dream.

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