VENUS by Ben Timpson


ARTWORK: Birth of Venus by Boticelli

Birth of Venus by Boticelli

Symbolism in "The Birth of Venus":
The trees in the background are orange trees. In the Renaissance, the orange was seen as a symbol of love. A common greek myth stated that the goddess Venus brought oranges to Earth. This was naturally untrue; oranges had arrived from east Asia through trade. Boticelli knew this but he chose to use the oranges in his painting anyway as a symbol of love itself coming to Earth.

-Uploaded by Walter Kunkle, the Wiki Master

ARTWORK: Balloon Birth of Venus

Larry Moss’s version of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

Aphrodite (Venus)

The Goddess of Love and Beauty, who beguiled all, gods and men alike; the laughter-loving goddess, who laughed sweetly or mockingly at those her wiles had conquered; the irresistible goddess who stole away even the wits of the wise.
She is the daughter of Zeus and Dione in the Iliad, but in later poems she is said to have sprung from the foam of the sea, and her name was explained as meaning “the foam-risen.” Aphros is foam in Greek. This sea-birth took place near Cythera, from where she was wafted to Cyprus. Both islands were ever after sacred to her, and she was called Cytherea or the Cyprian as often as by her proper name.
One of the Homeric Hymns, calling her “Beautiful, golden goddess,” says of her:-

The breath of the west wind bore her
Over the sounding sea,
Up form the delicate foam,
To wave-ringed Cyprus, her isle.
And the Hours golden-wreathed
Welcomed her joyously.
They clad her in raiment immortal,
And brought her to the gods.
Wonder seized them all as they saw
Violet-crowned Cytherea.

The Romans wrote of her in the same way. With her, beauty comes. The winds flee before her and the storm clouds; sweet flowers embroider the earth; the waves of the sea laugh; she moves in radiant light. Without her there is no joy nor loveliness anywhere. This is the picture the poets like best to paint of her.
But she had another side too. It was natural that she should cut a poor figure in the Iliad, where the battle of heroes is the theme. She is a soft, weak creature there, whom a mortal need not fear to attack. In later poems she is usually shown as treacherous and malicious, exerting a deadly and destructive power over men.
In most of the stories she is the wife of Hephaestus (Vulcan), the lame and ugly god of the forge. The myrtle was her tree; the dove her bird - sometimes, too, the sparrow and the swan.
-Excerpt from Edith Hamilton's Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

The explanation of the perception and myths of Venus (Greek counterpart Aphrodite) adds to the meaning of imago and Venus itself. Venus is said to have been beautiful and irresistible. As a goddess she was worshiped by the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks and Romans put her on a pedestal when they worshiped her. Imago means to put something or someone on a pedestal because you believe that it is superior to you and unattainable. Whatever you place on the pedestal is seen as beautiful and irresistible, like the goddess Venus. However, as beautiful as Venus was said to be, she was also said to be weak and malicious. What you place on a pedestal can turn out to have a destructive effect since you believe you cannot achieve the level of superiority it has over you or surpass it.

-Uploaded by Jami Bunton

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When I first saw Ben's artwork, the thought of Jesus on the cross came into my mind. Venus's body is in the same shape as Jesus is in on the cross. It looks as if she is on an invisible cross. The Birth of Venus is represents the rebirth and renewal in the world, and the death of Jesus on the cross shows that all people on Earth are saved from sin, giving them a life of renewal.
-Baker Walls


(1) Imago is supposed to be the final stage in a bug's life. Where it grows larger and more beautiful (in bug terms). This is related to how bugs are being used by this artist. By using them to create art, bugs are finally being seen as something beautiful. This could be why Birth of Venus was chosen as the exhibit's center piece. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, is beautiful regardless of what form or shape she takes on. These bugs can be seen as beautiful now because they've been used to create something new that cannot be seen as disgusting, as bugs normally are.
(2 ) This piece could also be degrading the idea of beauty. I remember how in class we were shown pictures of runway models. One of them had a billowy shirt on with no sleeves, and you could see her ribs. Remembering that, and how our society associates being skinny with beauty, could go along with how beauty and what is considered beautiful does burden our society. Everyone is concerned with how they look, and how what other people think of them. People go to such dangerous lengths just to achieve that "perfect image".
posted by Courtland S.