Florence and the Machine: Peter Weller on Renaissance Art

The man in RoboCop’s metal suit connects the dots between 15th-century Florence and modern-day L.A.

Tonight (November 29) actor, filmmaker, and art historian Weller joins assistant curator Christine Sciacca at the Getty Center to discuss “Florence, Cradle of the Renaissance.”

What similarities do you see between the two cities?
Both have a financial hegemony that promotes visual art, whether it’s Donatello, Botticelli, and Michelangelo backed by a Medici, or J.J. Abrams, Jim Cameron, and Martin Scorsese backed by a Murdoch. It’s a good thing!

If you were to write the script for Renaissance RoboCop, what would be the main plot points?
Since there were no cops per se until Napoleon, Ren Robo would have been a vigilante. He would ride at night, carrying a hand cannon and leaving effigies at the doors of oligarchs as a warning to pay the artists they were stiffing.

What would it take to make L.A. experience a renaissance, Florence style?
The paradox is that Florence had no idea it was in a renaissance at the time. Only in 1550, when Giorgio Vasari published The Lives of the Artists, did hindsight suggest that the 1400s had bequeathed a transformation in visual art. L.A. may be in a renaissance and not know it.