15th Century Masterpieces Revamped: Photoshopping Famous Nudes

art
The Sleeping Venus by Artemisia Gentilischi

We have all seen the paintings. In museums or art history books, magazines or as prints on people’s walls. The famous nude Venuses, painted by revered artists such as Botticelli, Ingres, and Velazquez. They are infamous beauties of their time and are still studied by people hundreds of years later. But looking at the original works we can see that these Renaissance women would not likely be cover models in today’s modern world. Cultural ideals have changed drastically throughout time, and at one time, it was considered ‘chic’ to have the sensual round curves of a woman. It represented prosperity as well as fertility. The goddess Venus in each painting depicts a woman with a rounded stomach and hips, and womanly thighs. These are real women.

Anna Utopia Giordano, an artist, model and actress decided to explore how cultural ideals have changed since these paintings were created using modern digital technology. She says on her website: “I was retouching some photographs from a shoot for a friend’s book and while I was playing with the skin tones and using corrective brush strokes, I was reflecting on society, social networks and the need to be accepted”. As a result, she decided to use the same tool that media outlets use to digitally alter advertisements and magazine stories for print in order to transform the buxom portrait goddesses into modern waifs. Photoshop. She drastically slimmed down their figures to the types of unrealistic proportions we would see in today’s media images. She also increased their breast sizes.

The result is a series of 10 revamped paintings which is now on display on her website:

http://www.annautopiagiordano.it/venus-ita.html

Says Giordano “Art is always in search of the perfect physical form – it has evolved through history, from the classical proportions of ancient Greece, to the prosperous beauty of the Renaissance, to the spindly look of models like Twiggy and the athletic look of our own time.” From her web site: “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.”

What an interesting experiment. This offers us yet another perspective from which to view just how much our vision of female beauty has been skewed. When these these paintings came to be, there were no cameras to capture images. Images came only from the minds eye, and their accuracy was dependent on the viewpoint or artistic judgment of the artist. The women in these paintings represented the pinnacle of beauty at that time. Similarly today, every image can altered and edited until it is almost unrecognizable from the original. In that way, photographs in the media are not really realistic representations, but really a rendering of what the ‘artist’ wants the subject to look like. We classify everything today as art: fashion, hair, makeup, jewelry etc. But it is how the people who showcase these things wear them and carry them that make them stand out. Our bodies really are an art form, and we need to reevaluate why the new modern classic is a size 00.

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