Artwork for: Beauty is in the Culture of the Beholder

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“Gold Standard,” Hellay Studios.

A note from the artist:

Gold Standard, is a collage art piece made from The Birth of Venus (1480s) by Sandro Botticelli, and a stock photo of mannequins found on unsplash.com.

In the episode, there was a theme of ‘difference in beauty standards’ around the world and cultures. This art piece was created on the aforementioned theme.

In Roman Mythology, Venus is the goddess of beauty and fertility. In the original painting, she is emerging from the sea, fully formed and ‘beautiful’, being flanked and revered by other godly beings on her either side. It can be perceived that Botticelli was concerned about creating a moment of beauty that ought to live on forever, and it has.

In stark contrast, the mannequin holds no divine status. In the original photograph, it is not clear at all why they (there were multiple mannequins) were placed where they were.

One may guess they were drying after being spray painted, or just waiting for someone to put clothes on them. It is also almost impossible to know who created these mannequins: were they hand carved by a person, or mass produced in a factory? Regardless, they are not fully formed, they are only functional.

Juxtaposing Venus and the mannequin was a bold action, inspired by ‘difference in beauty standards’. Aesthetic vs. functional, timeless vs. discardable, revered vs. unnoticed, conceptual vs. tangible, ancient vs. contemporary.

However, the aspect that allowed both Venus and the mannequin to be juxtaposed is that they are both used as standards of beauty. While the difference in their creation and form significant, the fact remains (over vast time and space) that beauty standards exist.

Another effect of the juxtaposition is that it morphs and swaps the power dynamic. In the original painting, Venus’ expressions and pose are that of ease, and magnanimity.

In the collage: in a different world of replicated mannequins, the same expressions and pose can be perceived as insecurities leaking and fear. The goddess of beauty no longer feels beautiful in a sea of replicated standardized mannequins.

The above explanation is from Hellay Studios, with whom we’ve begun a collaboration for this season of BTB. Every week, they’ll be releasing artwork related to the episode. Follow @hellaystudios on Instagram for more BTB fun, and to see the other beautiful artwork they create.

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