Topic 1 Essay

Submitted By emma3oh3
Words: 835
Pages: 4

The definition of a Venus figurine is a universal type of art appearing first in the Upper Paleolithic period between 31,000 and 9,000 years ago. The first one to be discovered was found by a man named Marquis de Vibraye in the year 1864 in Laugerie-Basse in France. Venus figurines are the oldest famous works of art. They were originally carved out of limestone, but later versions have been discovered to be made out of other soft stones, bones or ivory, and clay. The figurines are made to be in the shape of a woman, however the woman is distorted with large hips and breasts. The figurines would only measure up to about 4 inches tall, making them easy to be carried. The figurines were all named after the Roman goddess of beauty, Venus, because prehistorians hypothesized that they were an ancient model of beauty. They have been found in most parts of Europe, covering most of Eurasia. They served a ritualistic or symbolic function. These figurines, used as a form of contagion to bring fertility to women in the prehistoric age, are viewed simply as works of art in the current time period.
The original audience were women from the Prehistoric Period. Venus figurines have been discovered and classified in the Pyrenees-Aquitaine, Italian, Rhine-Danube, Russian, and Serbian cultural groups. They’ve also been found in areas of Japan and China so most or even all cultures used these figurines. They had nothing to do with social status because in the Prehistoric Period there was no such thing. The figurines had substantial outstanding features; they all have enlarged stomach and breasts, enlarged legs and vulva, and small or nonexistent hands, feet, and/or facial features. The enlarged body parts are all parts of a woman that are involved in birthing a child. The small or nonexistent hands, feet, and facial features are designed that way to make the enlarged body parts look bigger and also because they have nothing to do with the process of giving birth: they’re insignificant to the purpose of the figurine. The figurine itself is believed by the original audience to bring fertility to the woman whom possesses it. The original color of the figurines was red or, more specifically, “barn red”: the color of blood (Kettlewell). The red of a person’s blood comes from iron, which is believed to be an important vitamin when it comes to women’s fertility and a healthy child birth. Women of this historical period valued the Venus figurines because it was believed they would bring them fertility and a healthy child birth. However, today the Venus figurines are viewed not as a figure to bring fertility to the beholder, but as a work of art.
The second viewing audience today would be an artist. Obviously, the most noticeable features of the figurine would be the enlarged body parts. However, artists will look at the aspects of the figurines that went unnoticed by the women of the prehistoric age. First of all, artists would comment on is the symmetry of the figurine. The symmetry of the Venus has to be an artistic choice, not an example of matching reality (Kettlewell). Today, many artists still debate on whether or not the figurines are pregnant or just fertile; the discussion has been put into…