Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm your Venus

Goddess on the mountain top 
Burning like a silver flame 
The summit of beauty and love 
And Venus was her name 

She's got it 
Yeah, baby, she's got it 
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire 
At your desire 

(Sung by Shocking Blue in 1970,
 then by Bananarama in 1986)

Diego Velazquez's Venus at her Mirror (1648), also called his Rockeby Venus, is captivating and mysterious all at once. Though her curvaceous backside is revealed in all its splendor, the reflection of Venus's face is slightly blurred in the mirror hinting that the face represents the goddess within all women. The self-absorbed yet no doubt sensuously erotic Venus is admiring herself in a mirror that an adorable little cupid, clearly captivated, is holding for her. And how could he not be enchanted by the Goddess of Love?

Sad to think that the Spanish Inquisition may have stopped this Baroque masterpiece—the only surviving female nude of Velazquez's—from being part of the art world. Back then artists of licentious or immoral paintings were heavily fined, excommunicated, or, um, worse. So lucky for Velázquez that he had a royal appointment. Velázquez used this mirror trick later in his life in Las Meninas, the maids of honour (1656). Little María Margarita is shown in an ornate dress with her maids around her, but also the hot Spanish royal couple of the time (King Philip IV and his wife Mariana) are seen in the reflection of the mirror in the paintings. Clever man, isn't he?

Velazquez's Venus has inspired many an artist, including me. Have a look at some other Venus paintings that I found on the web. This collection of Venus portraits shows many varied approaches to the subject including simple line drawings, modern portrait photography, posed Barbie dolls, and even bathroom tiles. I tried to give proper credits to all artists or at least say where I found them. One Venus is a conté crayon sketch of mine that I did several years ago. Send me your Venus and I'll post it here too!

Alberto Giacometti's Venus, 1959

Ruxandra Raileanu's Venus

el Espejo's Venus from Wet

ddgrafix's Venus from Flickr

Spanish artist Eleazar's Venus from

Vincente Collado, Jr.'s Venus


Photographer André Maier's Venus
(love the birthmark on the buttocks)

J I Fernandez's Venus

Mary Ellen Strom's (Nude no 3) Venus

Diane Carnevale's conté crayon sketch of Venus

Czech artist Ktistyna Milde's Venus

Photographer Clive Stewart's Venus for Yves-Saint-Laurent

Bathroom shower tiles from House Modern Renovation

Using photography and digital manipulation,  Haley Leanne's Venus  

from Mauricio Cortes Garcia's Venus Flickr page
(not sure of the artist or even what medium this is)

I'm your Venus, I'm your fire 
At your desire 

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