The Venus of Willendorf and a modern naked lady

25,000 year old statue called Venus of Willendorf

Naked large woman
Modern Day Venus of Willendorf with black, over the elbow, evening gloves

I have just watched a series called How Art Made the World, narrated mostly by Dr. Nigel Spivey who teaches classical art and archaeology at the University of Cambridge. I am re-watching it with a notepad in hand. I very much enjoyed this series and now I have an opinion on much of what is presented. First, the Venus of Willendorf: Dr. Spivey states that she is a “grotesque exaggeration” of any woman who could have existed. He states this several times. Part of his thesis in this series is that humanity is driven to exaggeration…which I am not disputing in general. However, I think Dr. Spivey needs to get out a little more. There are many women who look like this. She appears to be a pregnant woman who conceived in December, has lived through an abundant spring and summer and is going to deliver her own abundance in a month or so. I doubt that the pregnant woman of 25,000 years ago had the baby bumps of a supermodel.

Other descriptions that I found on the internet stated that she is “a rather older woman, one who has certainly already had children.”  I also doubt that she is an older woman. The artist took great pains to put coiffed hair on the head. Why is there no pubic hair? Did she have a prehistoric Hollywood waxing? I believe body hair removal is a relatively recent phenomenon in women (last 100 years). This lack of pubic hair would tend to make me think she is a very young pregnant person. Humans have become less hirsute (great word for hairy) since prehistoric times, not more so, right? Within the last 5,000 years there have been some pubic hair removal practices in various geographic areas, but it is very difficult to imagine stone knives being up to this job 25,000 years ago. Also, the nipples are still pointing up and out. These are giant breasts, but old? I don’t think so.

Maybe she’s prehistoric pornography…this seems to be a subject that never goes out of style in any species. The original is only 4″ tall so if it is pornography, it is mobile pornography.

Or maybe she’s a prehistoric fad, like Cabbage Patch dolls or Miss Kitty.

Or maybe she is a figure of worship like a little statue of Buddha. 

Or maybe she was a decorative figurine; an object to be desired in the way that art is desired today.

It is now valued in the 10’s of millions of dollars.

I was sketching while thinking about this. The Modern Day Venus of Willendorf is actually my brother, Steve, in a nude woman body suit. He doesn’t read this so I am safe saying anything I want about him.

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    • Anonymous
    • October 24th, 2010

    However………I do read these writings and I’m going to tell him!! Guess who??

  1. I actually saw that wonderful goddess when Rosemary & I visited Austria. The books I am reading purport she is/was a Goddess. But of course those books are written by women scholars and what do they know.

  2. Sarah: Who is the artist who did the modern Venus above? I’d like to post and give the artist credit. Is it you?

    • Oh, I’m the artist on that one…I wouldn’t consider it one of my better drawings, however I couldn’t resist after reading Dr. Spivey!!

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