Paper Title

Venus in Art: the Goddess, the Mother, and the Whore

Presenter Information

Grace E. Rauen, Salem CollegeFollow

Location

Room 221, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

Feminism, Art, Venus, Sexuality, Femininity, Gender, Renaissance, Intersectional Theory, Art History, Goddess

Abstract

By utilizing intersectional theory to examine the presence of women as a gender in art, feminist art theory recognizes the social power of art as both a reflection of society and creation of culture. Developing along with the institutionalization of art during the Baroque and Renaissance eras, artistic renditions of the Roman goddess, Venus, became cultural symbols of femininity. According to these Neoplatonic interpretations of Roman epithets, Venus is typified into three categories: Venus Caelestis, the Venus of divine love, ethereal beauty, and spirituality; Venus Genetrix, the Venus of fertility, marriage, and monogamous sexuality; and Venus Naturalis, the Venus of lust, immoral sexuality, and prostitution. Representations of Venus as a subject in Renaissance art reflect and perpetuate society’s patriarchal values of women, reducing feminine expression to the tropes of the goddess, the mother, and the whore. These conceptualizations of Venus are measured against one another, deemed positive or negative by their subscription to accepted expressions of femininity, and subsequently perpetuate a hierarchical gender system. Such gendered typecasting is evident in the following works: Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (1482-85), P.P. Rubens’ Venus and Adonis (1630-40), Carracci’s Venus and Anchises (1597-1600), Diego Velasquez’s The Toilet of Venus (1647-51), Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), and Lucas Cranach’s Cupid Complaining to Venus (1525-27).

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Apr 2nd, 2:00 PM Apr 2nd, 3:15 PM

Venus in Art: the Goddess, the Mother, and the Whore

Room 221, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

By utilizing intersectional theory to examine the presence of women as a gender in art, feminist art theory recognizes the social power of art as both a reflection of society and creation of culture. Developing along with the institutionalization of art during the Baroque and Renaissance eras, artistic renditions of the Roman goddess, Venus, became cultural symbols of femininity. According to these Neoplatonic interpretations of Roman epithets, Venus is typified into three categories: Venus Caelestis, the Venus of divine love, ethereal beauty, and spirituality; Venus Genetrix, the Venus of fertility, marriage, and monogamous sexuality; and Venus Naturalis, the Venus of lust, immoral sexuality, and prostitution. Representations of Venus as a subject in Renaissance art reflect and perpetuate society’s patriarchal values of women, reducing feminine expression to the tropes of the goddess, the mother, and the whore. These conceptualizations of Venus are measured against one another, deemed positive or negative by their subscription to accepted expressions of femininity, and subsequently perpetuate a hierarchical gender system. Such gendered typecasting is evident in the following works: Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (1482-85), P.P. Rubens’ Venus and Adonis (1630-40), Carracci’s Venus and Anchises (1597-1600), Diego Velasquez’s The Toilet of Venus (1647-51), Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), and Lucas Cranach’s Cupid Complaining to Venus (1525-27).