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2018-2019 : Women in the Globalization of Art

Aphrodite-Venus, “woman of art par excellence” – Analysis and meta-analysis of a thematic research collection

by K. Bender, independent researcher

Why is Venus “this woman par excellence”? Because she was the all-powerful Goddess of love and the most beautiful? because in astrology her “Children” celebrated her? Because she was the “erotic muse”… of Botticelli, Cranach, Tiziano, Rubens, Velazquez, Boucher,… to Cézanne, Dalí, Picasso, Warhol, Twombly, Arman etc. ? or is it always Tannhäuser who wants to return to the “Mount of Venus”?

We prefer to examine all this from an analytical or’quantitative’ point of view, based on a digital collection of 20,000 works of art (sculptures, drawings, paintings, frescos, engravings and illustrations), distributed from the Middle Ages to Modern Times, which represent Venus and whose artists’ names are identified. What are the works of art – the “facts” – and how and how often is Venus presented throughout history? In addition to this ‘nominal’ or ‘categorical’ observation, we apply a second,’ordinal’ measure: how many times has Venus been exposed by an artist? The third measure, called “intervals”, observes the frequency of the works over time.

This approach requires a good use of statistics: a population – indefinite in art; a sampling – never ‘random’ in art; and a comparison between samples (meta-analysis) – homogeneity is essential. The exercise reinforces our understanding of artistic creation, tells us about the dissemination of the theme through engravings and illustrations, repetition and variations of compositions; it informs us about market preferences.  But above all, the work reveals the contribution of so many forgotten artists who nevertheless contributed to the artistic and general culture of their time. This is the interest of “distant viewing” in art history, by analogy with “distant reading” in literature history.

Session on Thursday, April 4, 2019, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm, in the IHMC room.

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