Laurie Toby Edison

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The Cult of Thin-ness Takes over Art History

Debbie says:

We all (that is, everyone who is aware of fat oppression) know that the image of beauty has gotten thinner over the years. Movie stars are thinner, the definition of “fat” is thinner, and so on and so forth. I’ve known this so long that I’m pretty armored against it. But this post from Daphne P. Winnabago shocked me, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much Laurie will sputter when she sees it.

The great works of art are on a diet:

Here’s the original 19th century neoclassical “Venus with Apple” by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

real statue

and here’s a “reproduction” you can buy:

thinned Venus

Note that her position is also changed from the original, perhaps because her slenderer legs won’t hold up the original posture. I guess her headdress is different just because it’s different.

At the link above, Daphne also shows us a statuary reproduction of Botticelli’s famous painting “Birth of Venus where the same thing has been done although, as she says, the first misuse is converting painting into statuary.

Holy crap, people! If you can’t leave artists’ images of beauty alone, can’t you at least leave other centuries alone? Do a different statue and call it “based on” “Venus with Apple.” I can’t even get on my normal high horse about “what are we teaching our children?” because I’m too sputtering mad about the perversion of images from another time to fit the fickle tastes of our times.

Thanks to Lynn Kendall for being first of many with the link.

6 Responses to “The Cult of Thin-ness Takes over Art History”

  1. Twistie Says:

    I can’t WAIT for the ‘new, improved’ Venus of Willendorf under this sad perversion of art.

  2. Lisa Hirsch Says:

    The header lead me to think that an art history textbook or museum was somehow engaged in editing important artworks. I was relieved to read the source – that is, Daphnep’s blog postings – and discover that it’s one commercial company, or, at least, she is citing one commercial company. I’m curious how widespread this kind of revisionism is. Her followup has thoughtful comments on why this kind of thing happens. Also really curious how many people buy accurate reproductions of these works versus how many buy the altered reproductions. Also, to what extent do these reproductions represent “art history”?

  3. Debbie Says:

    Twistie, it’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that.

    Lisa, excellent points. I will say that web searching brought up the thinned reproduction more often (and before) it brought up the original, though.

  4. Nif Says:

    That’s just so wrong.

  5. Lisa Hirsch Says:

    Oh…after doing some more digging, I found something you do not mention that is really shocking: why is the Thorvaldsen Museum itself selling bad reproductions of the statue?

  6. Kyla Says:

    holy shit, that PISSES me off!!! totally unrelated – would you like to exchange blog links on our pages? I like what you have going on here.

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