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Titian masterpieces inspire peep show and sexy robot

12 july 2012, 13:22
0
'Danae' painted in 1544 by Renaissance artist Titian. ©REUTERS/Michael Crabtree
'Danae' painted in 1544 by Renaissance artist Titian. ©REUTERS/Michael Crabtree
A peep show of seven women named Diana and a "seductive" robot are among the modern works unveiled at London's National Gallery in an exhibition inspired by Renaissance master Titian, AFP reports.

The gallery has invited artists, poets, choreographers and composers to create works based on three great nudes by the 16th century Italian painter for the new show, "Metamorphosis: Titian 2012".

The museum hopes the free exhibition, which opened on Wednesday, will attract visitors arriving in London for the Olympic Games, which take place in the British capital between July 27 and August 12.

The three Titian paintings -- "Diana and Actaeon", "The Death of Actaeon" and "Diana and Callisto" -- are on show alongside the modern works, in their first joint appearance since the late 18th century.

"They're intended to delight the senses," the exhibition's curator Minna Moore Ede said of Titian's original curvaceous nudes, which scandalised 16th century viewers because they were so lifelike.

"They were probably intended to be viewed by men only -- and there are moments in their history when they were covered by curtains if women were around," she told AFP.

The gallery's guest artists have taken Titian's risque themes to heart.

Conrad Shawcross offers a huge industrial robot named "Trophy" as his futuristic depiction of Diana, the ancient Greek goddess who is the focus of all three Titian paintings.

"I would never have imagined that between two Titians we would have a robot," Moore Ede observed. "And such a beguiling one, too".

The robot's sensual movements are a homage to Diana -- who, according to the myth, was caught bathing nude by the hunter Actaeon.

In revenge, Diana turns Actaeon into a stag and he is devoured by his hunting dogs -- which Shawcross represents with a wooden antler.

Mark Wallinger, a former winner of Britain's prestigious Turner Prize, lets the viewer turn voyeur with his take on Titian, "Diana".

Wallinger tracked down seven women called Diana to take turns sitting naked in a mocked-up bathroom, which visitors can view through two peep-holes.

Nigerian-British painter Chris Ofili, another Turner Prize winner, transfers Titian's nudes to the colourful landscape of Trinidad, where he lives and works.

The gallery has also commissioned several leading poets, including Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney, to write new works inspired by the paintings.

But it is dancers who are set to steal the show, with seven Titian-inspired ballets, set to original scores by British composers, to be performed by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House from July 14 to 20.

The July 16 performance will be broadcast live on giant screens at London's Trafalgar Square -- home to the gallery and the famous Nelson's Column monument -- and across Britain.

The gallery's free exhibition, which runs from July 11 until September 23, is part of the "Cultural Olympiad", a huge programme of arts events around Britain in celebration of the Games.

Titian was the greatest painter of 16th century Venice, and the first Renaissance painter to enjoy a broad international clientele.

He was hugely popular with courts across Europe, and painted the three "Diana" masterpieces, based on the Roman poet Ovid's "Metamorphoses", for King Philip II of Spain.

The National Gallery acquired "Diana and Callisto" in March along with the National Gallery of Scotland, after buying "Diana and Actaeon" in 2009 and "The Death of Actaeon" in 1972.

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