Thesis statement: Despite the fact that Aphrodite as a mythological character comprises both the elements of physical attraction (Aphrodite Pandemos) and ethereal qualities (Aphrodite Ouraneia), which incorporate spiritual and moral qualities, most artists tend to exploit the former image more often in their works, putting the emphasis on Aphrodite’s sexuality, which can be explained not by chauvinist moods, but by the public’s unwillingness to accept another interpretation of a famous character.
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Indeed, when considering the majority of artworks devoted to Aphrodite, one will find out that the goddess is rarely portrayed as Aphrodite Ouraneia; her ethereal qualities are only included into most of the artworks at best, completely ignored at worst. One of the most famous artworks, Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus depicts the beauty of innocence, yet still puts a strong emphasis on the sexuality of the character.
It would be wrong, however, to claim that every single artist exploits sexuality of the character in question to the nth degree; one of the chastest artworks devoted to the goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite of Milos strikes with the lack of sexual connotation of the image. Even though devilments of nudity are obvious, they are not stretched to the nth degree, which allows the audience to view Aphrodite as the symbol of love and beauty.
From a certain perspective, Botticelli’s Aphrodite can also be seen as the symbol of love rather than sexuality; the use of pastel palette and the lack of obviously sexualized imagery can be considered as a proof for Botticelli’s intent to depict the innocence of young love, which borders platonic love.
The aforementioned artwork, however, is one of the few exceptions of the overall sexualized images of Aphrodite in art, not to mention the depictions of the goddess of love in popular culture. Speaking of more recent portrayals of Aphrodite as the representation of desire instead of love and beauty, one must mention such work as Robert Fowler’s Aphrodite. While one would not consider this work shallow, it still tends to capture the elements of Aphrodite Pandemos rather than Aphrodite Ouraneia.
There is no denying that each artist tends to create his own Aphrodite in accordance with his/her vision of beauty. However, it seems that in their works, most artists tend to choose the elements that stress the elements, which contribute to sexualizing the character. For instance, most artists choose to “dress” Aphrodite in the clothes that put the emphasis on her body, tending to depict such materials as silk, which also add to the sexualization of the image.
The reasons for the choice of the theme that the manner of depicting Aphrodite is based on a large variety of factors, among which, personal preferences of an artist are obviously a priority; however, most of the existing artworks prefer Aphrodite Pandemos to Aphrodite Ouraneia, which can be explained by stereotypical thinking of an artist, as well as the fact that the public is not ready to accept a sudden change in the traditional depiction of the ancient goddess.
While the reasons for the reluctance to see Aphrodite as the goddess that possesses a certain ethereal qualities can be viewed through the lens of feminism, with the application of gender profiling concept, it still seems that the phenomenon in question can be explained by laziness.
While the image of Aphrodite Pandemos seems to have been cemented in the heads of most people, the image of Aphrodite Ouraneia seems to be alien for the greatest part of the population; hence the need to exploit the former appears.