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Venus, Retouched
April 13, 2012 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Ana Utopia Giordano photoshops portraits of Venus for today's standards of the feminine ideal.
posted by ambrosia (45 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
no piercings? no tattoos?
posted by HuronBob at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Needs more silicone.
posted by crunchland at 1:28 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm... I don't think this is instilling in me the message it's supposed to. The ones that don't turn out grossly dysmorphic just look like somewhat thinner women.
posted by cmoj at 1:39 PM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


With all due respect to this project, Uma Thurman already updated Venus for today's feminine ideal.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:39 PM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


She should have started by photoshopping in a vertical scroll bar. What is with photographers and a poor grasp of HTML or browsing habits?

Also, whose standards, exactly? I've not met this "today" fellow; is he related to "some people", or maybe a second cousin twice removed from "society"? Because I'd really like the full name of the specific people who have these standards, rather than tossing up the straw man of "today's standards" or "society today" or whatever other bugaboo people have at hand. Because honestly, it seems that list mostly starts and ends with the editors of fashion magazines, as she unintentionally suggests in her abstract at the (far right end, thanks) of the window.
posted by hincandenza at 1:41 PM on April 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


What is with photographers...? -- 20 years ago, I would have blamed it on a Tri-X mindset. Not much of an excuse today, though.
posted by crunchland at 1:50 PM on April 13, 2012


She's got it.

Yeah, baby - she's got it.
posted by Trurl at 1:52 PM on April 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Interesting that one thing ancients and moderns do have in common is no pubic hair.
posted by y2karl at 1:53 PM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm sure she's a perfectly nice woman and maybe some day she'll make some actual art that might even have relevance but feminism doesn't need this heavy implication that some bodies are "right" and others might be "wrong".
Artists express whatever the current ideal is through making art, not distorting it.
posted by mikoroshi at 1:54 PM on April 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hmm... I don't think this is instilling in me the message it's supposed to. The ones that don't turn out grossly dysmorphic just look like somewhat thinner women

Also, as a man with contemporary tastes in women, I'm just looking at it and thinking, "Yep, that second was is more attractive." It's not really undermining anything for me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:58 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


...grar grar pointless side-scroll grumble mumble...
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:58 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sigh.

I can't see that picture and not think of my first time. You never forget your first install of Adobe Illustrator, you know?
posted by verb at 2:02 PM on April 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


hincandenza:
Also, whose standards, exactly? I've not met this "today" fellow; is he related to "some people", or maybe a second cousin twice removed from "society"? Because I'd really like the full name of the specific people who have these standards, rather than tossing up the straw man of "today's standards" or "society today" or whatever other bugaboo people have at hand. Because honestly, it seems that list mostly starts and ends with the editors of fashion magazines, as she unintentionally suggests in her abstract at the (far right end, thanks) of the window.

The standards of everyone everywhere in current media who selects images of women to be disseminated to the masses. All around us, at every turn. Television, advertising, print, album covers, news anchors, actresses, musicians, you name it. How often do you see women who look like the "classic" picture portrayed in any media today? How often do you see arms like that or thighs or bellies? Unless it's to make a specific point about how they're being size-inclusive, almost never. (See the recent flap, too, about Adele.) Women that are selected to show off products -- or who are being sold as the product -- absolutely look like the "contemporary" images of Venus on the right.

It's not even "better or worse," it's that women who look more like the "classic" type are practically invisible in media.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Interesting that one thing ancients and moderns do have in common is no pubic hair.

I forget which historical figure - George Bernard Shaw? - was reputed to experienced difficulty during his first sexual encounter upon discovering that the woman had hair in places where the female body as he knew it from art had none.
posted by Trurl at 2:22 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's that women who look more like the "classic" type are practically invisible in media.

Indeed, I believe the industry term for "classic beauty" is "plus size."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:23 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can anyone speak to how realistic the Venuses of the past were for their time? Art has always identified an ideal; now the ideal is (arguably) thin with big breasts; in the 20s, say thin with small breasts, and in many of these images, more zatig with smallish breasts. But how realistic would that type have been?

Taking a sideways example, I expect that at the time the Venus of Willendorf was created (i.e., 20,000+ years ago), few (if any) women looked like that; it seems likely that they would have been more lean, given available nutrition.

Few artists just paint whoever happens to show up. The "classic" form was selected by male artists of the day as a representation of female beauty; it doesn't necessarily follow that it is in any way a more pure representation of the female form. Though, clearly, it's one that the media today would like us to forget exists.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:24 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The side scrolling is just the beginning of the horrible site design. Click around. Many other horrors await.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2012


Can anyone speak to how realistic the Venuses of the past were for their time?

I'd suggest, along a somewhat Marxist line, that the cultural ideals of beauty were informed by economics.

Just as in developing countries today, if a majority of people are struggling along with a subsistence level of nutrition, only the wealthy have the luxury of plumpness. And as the wealthier tend to be more desirable for a number of reasons (lifestyle, dress, influence, grooming etc) it's typical for plumpness to also be associated with desirability.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:40 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I forget which historical figure - George Bernard Shaw? - was reputed to experienced difficulty during his first sexual encounter upon discovering that the woman had hair in places where the female body as he knew it from art had none.

John Ruskin, according to the wikipedia article on pubic hair.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm just looking at it and thinking, "Yep, that second was is more attractive."

And I'm thinking the opposite, as per my own personal tastes. But I'm pretty sure that's not the goal of this project.

I'm not actually sure what the goal is, though. To show that standards of beauty have changed? To show that one is supposedly better or worse than the other?

I find the unadulterated versions to be better pieces of art, but that's got less to do with the body types of the Venuses depicted and more to do with the artist's photoshop skills, I suspect.

If there is an artist's statement somewhere, that I'm not seeing, maybe it'll all make sense. But based on the images alone, I'm not sure what the artist is hoping to accomplish.
posted by asnider at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2012


I'd suggest, along a somewhat Marxist line, that the cultural ideals of beauty were informed by economics.

That has always been my understanding as well, though I hoped someone could support our theory with some sort of data about nutrition and body morphologies in the Renaissance.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:45 PM on April 13, 2012


I'm sure she's a perfectly nice woman and maybe some day she'll make some actual art that might even have relevance but feminism doesn't need this heavy implication that some bodies are "right" and others might be "wrong".

Where are you getting that from? The little blurb off to the side provides some perfectly plausible things this work could be About that have nothing to do with any of that.

"Apart from highlighting once again the amazing possibilities of digital technologies applied to art, this job from Anna Giordano is indeed a good cue to reconsider both the subjectivity of cultural standards (in facts, ours are so different from the past ones) and the inclination of modern society and advertising companies to edit most images of feminine body in order to reach a fake perfection, corresponding to an unreachable reality."
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:46 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Giordano seems to have captured the tiny, strengthless arms of the modern ideal, anyway.
posted by jamjam at 2:48 PM on April 13, 2012


Thanks for quoting the artist's statement, two or three cars parked under the stars; I somehow completely missed it when I first scrolled through the gallery. (And when I took a second look I saw the bit of text on the left-hand side and assumed that was all there was to go on.)
posted by asnider at 2:51 PM on April 13, 2012


I'd suggest, along a somewhat Marxist line, that the cultural ideals of beauty were informed by economics.

That's borne out by the "Playboy Economics" study. Although, I believe that future studies have shown it to be somewhat problematic.
posted by asnider at 2:54 PM on April 13, 2012


Now she should re do it but make all the women fatter and also awesome.
posted by chapps at 3:20 PM on April 13, 2012


Jean Louis Jerome portrayed last century vision on the feminine ideal (no pubic hair, of course) a lot closer to the original Venuses than the photoshopped ones. His series on slave markets is well known, even if not universally admired (diplomatic version of "I can't abide his stuff").
posted by francesca too at 3:37 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's really not my ideal.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 3:49 PM on April 13, 2012


Huh, I'm amazed at all the negativity in this thread. I found this surprisingly powerful. I think because all those images are so familiar to me and I think of most of them as representations of highly "idealized" and attractive women. It 's kind of shocking to look at the 'shopped versions and realize just how far from the contemporary commercial vision of the "sexy woman" they are. I mean, as soon as you see the shopped version you realize "yeah, that's much more the kind of thing you'd be likely to see on a Maxim cover."

Where it's really noticeable is in the hips and thighs: it's amazing how far we've gone towards the girlish figure from the waist down. Of course the one image that doesn't work at all is the Bottecelli. His is already so elongated and non-representational that the "fixed" version just looks freakish.
posted by yoink at 4:04 PM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


y2karl: "Interesting that one thing ancients and moderns do have in common is no pubic hair."

Also, nudity.
posted by mullingitover at 4:07 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "classic" form was selected by male artists of the day as a representation of female beauty; it doesn't necessarily follow that it is in any way a more pure representation of the female form.

I dunno, a hell of a lot of the women today around me look more like version A than version B. And the fact that so many of them look anatomically wonky actually is all too typical of real photoshopped models.

Hell, women who are actually that thin generally don't look like the B option, only photos and very, very carefully shot film looks like it because we tend to exclude things like banana-tit, belly pooch and sharp elbows/knees, and women as thin as the B version may have visible muscle.
posted by Phalene at 4:41 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In most cases, I found both images to be so lovely and so similar that this didn't affect me much.
posted by windykites at 4:49 PM on April 13, 2012


I'm sure she's a perfectly nice woman and maybe some day she'll make some actual art that might even have relevance but feminism doesn't need this heavy implication that some bodies are "right" and others might be "wrong".
Artists express whatever the current ideal is through making art, not distorting it.


I'm afraid you missed the point. She's not trying to express the current ideal, to improve or update the originals, or to police women's bodies. She's presenting the difference between the (arbitrary) beauty standards of today and of the past by altering these familiar images of the personification of the feminine beauty ideal and presenting them next to the originals. The art lies in the concept and the juxtaposition, not in the modification itself. (A good thing, because as everyone's observed, her Photoshop skills are maybe not up to her ambitions.) I thought this was a pretty ham-handedly obvious effort, but I guess there's some subtlety to it after all, since intelligent observers have misconstrued her intentions.
posted by gingerest at 6:27 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


this job from Anna Giordano is indeed a good cue to reconsider both the subjectivity of cultural standards

If the theory suggested for this change has substance, then the cultural standards are not subjective, but fairly objective and unchanging. The situation in which societies find themselves is what has changed.

(And the theory would be about more than just availability of food. Everything from muscle tone to literacy can be a marker either for or against desirability (or neither), depending on the situation the society is in.)

That said, fashions don't seem to be an objective response - though they certain take inspiration from them. I'm not even sure you'd call fashion subjective either, they're like some kind of mass pact. I guess it Does Not Compute because fashion isn't really either a prescription or a description of what is beautiful, it exists for different reasons and serves different purposes.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:27 PM on April 13, 2012


The standards of everyone everywhere in current media who selects images of women to be disseminated to the masses. All around us, at every turn. Television, advertising, print, album covers, news anchors, actresses, musicians, you name it.

Yeah, but "they" are not entirely monolithic, although I agree that there is too much conformity.

How often do you see women who look like the "classic" picture portrayed in any media today? How often do you see arms like that or thighs or bellies?

I think part of his point was that you don't really see many of the second type, either. Some of them fall into the uncanny valley and are not entirely anatomically realistic, and not in the way that we say that media images are unrealistic.

Also, my impression of current tastes is that the posterior is much more heavily emphasized these days (pun intended). I think the standard that the 'shopped versions are shooting for represents generic male preferences from twenty years ago. On the other hand, fashion culture and women's magazines do seem to put greater emphasis on "skinny." This goes back to what I was saying about the media not being monolithic.
posted by Edgewise at 7:37 PM on April 13, 2012


What impresses me most about this is how bad the photoshopping is.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:42 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shoop me like one of your French girls...
posted by The otter lady at 9:17 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


we tend to exclude things like banana-tit, belly pooch and sharp elbows/knees
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:28 PM on April 13, 2012


I, for one, in this day of "real women have curves" was happy to see a few women like me who have very narrow curves.
posted by _paegan_ at 1:01 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


ha! I was just reading this thread without being logged in, and the ad at the bottom was for photo touch up software.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:55 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Revealing.
posted by fairmettle at 3:20 AM on April 14, 2012


it's typical for plumpness to also be associated with desirability.

There are perhaps two opposite genetic dispositions; the plump woman can bear and nurse more offspring, the skinny woman is not already pregnant with another man's child.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:11 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that was moderately interesting.
posted by scratch at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2012


Now she should re do it but make all the women fatter and also awesome.

Skinny women are awesome too.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:02 PM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The standards of everyone everywhere in current media who selects images of women to be disseminated to the masses. All around us, at every turn. Television, advertising, print, album covers, news anchors, actresses, musicians, you name it.

fiercecupcake, you've hit on a point that others drew out more explicitly, and modern commenters on "how tastes have changed!!!ELEVENTY!" often miss.

Today's standard of beauty is decided upon by photogs, photo editors, and higher-level fashion execs. This is well-understood.

Peter Paul Rubens, he of the famous "rubinesque" tastes, often chose his own wife as a model; surely not because the social bigwigs of his day got together and said, "You know who will make this painting The Next Big Thing? That painter's wife!" In fact, as I look through the paintings of his time (by others), I do not come away with a sense of "rubinesque beauty standards." Just the opposite: I come away with a sense of a lack of strict standards. (For another example, Cranach's personal ideal of beauty I find... disturbing.)

But today, with today's equivalent of oil paintings being distributed to a million or more passive eyepairs, and supervised by a staff specifically trained to minimize variation from a standard beauty norm (while ironically attempting for novelty - just not too much of it! - to attract attention to their particular offering over it's competitors)... standards definitely exist.

It's perhaps not that tastes have changed, so much as they are now, and for the first time in history, largely controlled by others. Sure, Marie Antoinette's hairstylings had influence on her court, and trickled down to the bourgeousie, but Marie's body type did not create conformity in the public's "body type ideals", AFAIK...

I know men who absolutely, obviously prefer women who are very obese; nice men, not controlling "feeder" freaks. But none of them have a 21st-century Rubens making mainstream art tailored to their preferences.

Maybe I'm wrong. But I think the game has been changed, even more than our tastes.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:56 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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