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Venus Compared - Term Paper Example

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Whether art began as a magical means of controlling the external world as some archaeologists believe or forother reason, by the time civilization took hold in ancient Egypt, art was already an important means of commemorating important people and cultural symbols…
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Venus Compared
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Download file to see previous pages The ancient Greeks used it as a means of worship, honoring their gods and goddesses with as perfect representations as they could create. Inheriting that tradition from the Greeks, the Romans developed an artistic approach that would both honor their gods and commemorate cultural and individual achievements. It was here that the figure of Venus first came to life only to be subsumed by the Middle Ages and reborn in the light of the Renaissance which has itself been reflected in later periods. Even as the figure of the goddess herself remains relatively similar in terms of subject matter and context, depictions of Venus from the ancient period through the Renaissance and into the more modern age demonstrate vastly different approaches to the concept of female perfection. Such differences are easy to see when comparing the ancient Capitoline Venus (second century BC) with the famous Renaissance painting of her in Botticelli's painting "Birth of Venus" (1485) and the Botero's contemporary statue of her in the form of the "Broadgate Venus" (1989). The Capitoline Venus is a marble statue created during the Roman era, probably during the 2nd century BC. The statue presents a very lifelike woman as she shyly prepares to step into a bath. She folds into herself a little bit, which is different from many of the other statues of the time which stood boldly nude and upright. Most of her weight is carried on one foot with her hips and shoulders twisted a bit in a counterpose position. Her shoulders curve in toward her chest and her upper body seems to hover over her lower body, as if she is attempting to protect it from prying eyes. This impression is heightened by her arms which fold inward with an obvious attempt at covering her breasts and pubic area even though she doesn't actually touch her body. Her pose suggests modesty and chastity, both characteristics she protects (Guerber, 1990). However, she is not the vision of perfection one might imagine. “Her modesty in covering her breasts with her hand only serves to emphasize them, while her head turns shyly to one side. However, the beauty of her body is impaired by the too large head weighed down by the hair and the common facial features” (Morton, 1990, p. 366). The beauty of her body suggests her divine nature as something worthy of worship while her pose, particularly as compared to other statues of the time, suggests her function; however, the not-so-perfect head may also be a reflection of the Roman's understanding that their gods and goddesses were not perfect. They had their own flaws, petty jealousies, and other weaknesses. The way this statue is made thus reflects the cultural beliefs in which it was made. Goddesses might be divine and have a degree of perfection well beyond the ability of normal women, but they still had their modesty, they still moved like mortal women, and they still had their own small flaws that got in the way. The period between the fall of Rome and the rise of the Renaissance saw very little art celebrating goddesses of any kind, so it isn't until the Renaissance that Venus was able to reemerge into the art world. When she did, she did so in a big way. Understood broadly as the goddess of love, Venus was reborn in statues and paintings throughout Italy with perhaps one of the most famous portrayals performed by Botticelli. While she had appeared in other works before him, Boticelli made a splash with his “Birth of Venus” (1485). In this image, Venus is again portrayed in the nude as she had been in ancient art, which was breaking the rules of the time as only divinities (Jesus, Mary, and the saints) were accepted when depicted nude. He did draw a line, though, in determining ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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