Dutch artist Folkert de Jong has created a new version of the famous painting The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. He produced it for the LAM museum, located on the Keukenhof Estate in Lisse. Botticelli’s masterpiece is still regarded by many as the ultimate symbol of beauty and hangs in the Italian Uffizi Gallery, attracting thousands of visitors each month. Pop stars, photographers and fashion designers are still inspired by the goddess’s looks. Folkert’s sculpture is 265 cm tall and made from epoxy resin, polyurethane foam and Styrofoam. She has irregular skin and rises up out of a bowl of plastic soup. “With this artwork, I’m criticising the consumption of feminine beauty”, says Folkert.
Folkert’s Venus is called Dea Consumptia, Goddess of Consumption. The work is now on display at the LAM museum.
A new perspective on the Goddess
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) painted The Birth of Venus around 1483. According to legend, Venus, the goddess of love, was born from the sea’s foam and came ashore on a Cypriot beach standing on a scallop shell.
Folkert de Jong (1972) believes Botticelli’s famous painting symbolises the birth of the goddess of consumption. In his version, Venus bubbles to the surface from discarded plastic water bottles.
Botticelli’s Venus tries to cover her naked body with her hands and her long, wavy hair. Folkert regards this work as a shameless depiction of a young woman as a mere sex symbol.
“Sandro Botticelli makes the viewer complicit in a sort of striptease performed under duress”, says Folkert. “With this painting, Botticelli gave the green light to use art as an excuse for lusting after the young female body. It’s similar to how advertising entices us today to buy luxury items and other things – Botticelli’s painting incites us to consume physical beauty.”
Folkert is renowned for his use of unusual substances. He works with everyday building materials such as polyurethane foam. Dea Consumptia, now part of the LAM museum collection, is made from epoxy resin, polyurethane foam and Styrofoam, which are manufactured by the chemical industry and are harmful to the environment.
These materials are used for the insulation of household appliances, in shipbuilding and the construction industry. “I regard these unethical materials as today’s marble”, says Folkert. “We don’t even realise it, but they are everywhere, all around us”.
It’s the first time that Folkert has worked using a combination of epoxy resin, polyurethane foam and Styrofoam.
Folkert de Jong
Folkert de Jong (Egmond aan Zee, 1972) studied at Amsterdam University for the Arts and Rijksakademie. He became a world-famous artist for his larger-than-life sculptures of fantasy figures. Museums worldwide and other collections have purchased Folkert’s artworks and have held exhibitions to celebrate them. These include Saatchi (London), the Picasso Museum (Barcelona), Mackintosh Museum (Glasgow), James Cohan Gallery (New York), Kunsthalle Winterthur (Switzerland) and Art Basel Miami. Dea Consumptia is the second artwork by Folkert de Jong purchased by the LAM for its collection. This relatively young art museum has already acquired a bronze sculpture by the artist.
The LAM museum is located in the heart of the famous Dutch bulb region and is home to an international art collection dedicated to food and consumption. Big names from the art world, including Ron Mueck, Yinka Shonibare, Kathleen Ryan, Raquel van Haver and Tom Friedman, offer fresh perspectives on everyday activities like eating, drinking and shopping.
Sietske van Zanten, the museum’s director, says: “We hope visitors will look at everyday things in a new way, both during and after their visit to the museum. Folkert de Jong’s artwork invites us to view everyday life and physical beauty used in adverts in a very different light.”