Week 8: Research Project Proposal


Research Topic and Projected Value

I am going to research the reasons why the painting, “Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli, was created and how it became so well known. I hope to discover why this painting is still iconic in today’s society. Through researching this specific painting, I hope to also discover if there is a parallel between other famous artworks and advertisement created now. I think my results will be of value to my proposed readers because it will uncover an explanation as to why classical art is still prominent today and how it has shaped the structure of visual culture today. Through my results I want to help readers understand why modern advertisement can be so heavily impacted by classical style, and what that has to say about creativity and originality in society.


Leading Research Questions and Hypothesis

  1. a) Why is the painting, “Birth of Venus” continually referenced in today’s visual culture?


  1. b) That stylistic choices and subject matter of classical paintings heavily contribute to a work’s modern success and are the lead causes as to why certain ones are so popular to reference in art now.


Research Strategy

  1. a) What do you need to find out through research?  

Why was the painting created in the first place?

What is the myth behind the painting, and is it still relevant now? (Ties into history of painting)

What was the public response to “Birth of Venus” during the 1400’s-1500’s/ now, and how do those responses compare to each other?

What makes advertisements popular today? What makes classical paintings timeless?

What other paintings are commonly referenced in visual culture today? Is there a common thread between them that can explain the cause of their popularity?


  1. b) What assumptions are you bringing to your research?

I assume there is an underlying reason, possibly psychological, as to why people are drawn to classical paintings and use them to help advertise and get messages across in today’s culture.


  1. c) What do you know so far?

I know that there are multiple paintings created thousands of years ago, that are still some of the most powerful and popular images in visual culture today. I have seen several graphics including redraws or collaged parts of the original “Birth of Venus” painting all over social media, so I know there are plenty of “modern” examples.  I also know that companies and artists today reference historical art pieces in collections, advertisements, movies, songs and books today.


  1. d) How do you intend to find the information you need to answer each of your questions and test each of your assumptions?

Why is the painting, “Birth of Venus” continually referenced in today’s visual culture?  I will use books and various articles to find out why artists and companies choose to use this specific work in their creations. I could potentially ask artists themselves on what interests them about the work, by conducting interviews. I will gather multiple examples of advertisements and art pieces that include the famous piece, and see if there is a common thread among them — like a specific part of the image, certain details, color or pose the artists copy.

The style and subject matter of the piece, and other well known pieces today, are huge factors in why they are continually referenced in visual culture today. To test this assumption I will use many sources. Online articles and books that analyze the original painting will be helpful in determining why people are so drawn to it today. I can read articles or artist statements about works that reference Botticelli, and use their words describing their choices to help test my assumption. I can conduct interviews of the general public, asking them their opinions and what makes a historical art memorable.


Reading list for further research: (These sources wouldn’t do the hanging indent because there isn’t an option to do so when directly typing into the original)


Barolsky, Paul. “Looking at Venus: A Brief History of Erotic Art.” Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, Third Series, 7, no. 2 (1999): 93-117. http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.newschool.edu/stable/20163760 (Accessed March, 10, 2019).


Debenedetti, Ana, and Caroline Elam, eds. Botticelli Past and Present. London: UCL Press, 2019. http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.newschool.edu/stable/j.ctv550cgj (accessed March, 10, 2019).


Montua, Gabriel. “Giving an Edge to the Beautiful Line: Botticelli Referenced in the Works of Contemporary Artists to Address Issues of Gender and Global Politics.” In Botticelli Past and Present, edited by Debenedetti Ana and Elam Caroline, 290-306. London: UCL Press, 2019. http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.newschool.edu/stable/j.ctv550cgj.23 (accessed March, 10, 2019).


Paglia, Camille. “The Cruel Mirror: Body Type and Body Image as Reflected in Art.” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 23, no. 2 (2004): 4-7. http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.newschool.edu/stable/27949310 (accessed March, 10, 2019).


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