Venus of Willendorf

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Aaron Cooper
12-11-11
Stephanie Newton

Venus Of Willendorf
One of the most famous and oldest female figurines is the “Venus of Willendorf.” This figurine is made of limestone, stands about 4 ¼ inches high, and was found in Austria. It dates back to 28,000 -25,000 BCE and is from the Paleolithic period a.k.a. the Old Stone Age. The artist exaggerated many of the female body parts making them look almost ball-like. The exaggerations include the breasts, buttocks, stomach, and genital area, which show signs of fertility. Other areas on her body however do not stick out representing less importance. The “Venus of Willendorf” also lacks a face, which is a key feature in identification of the human figure. This suggests that she is not known as a specific human but for her physical appearance.

Her genital area is deliberately emphasized and carefully detailed to be made clearly and perhaps unnaturally so. This, combined with the large breasts and roundness of her stomach, suggest the “content” of the sculpture is female procreativity and nurture being known as a fertility idol. The focal point of the sculpture is obviously on the different body parts because they are so emphasized taking the viewer away from the face and the arms of the object to look at the overall meaning of why these parts are enlarged. It is clear that the sculptor did not go for naturalism with oversized proportions and shapes and also common with Paleolithic art, the sculptor did not carve any facial features.

“Another characteristic of Paleolithic “Venus” figurines is the lack of feet. In a archaeological report of her finding, the Willendorf sculpture is described as preserved in all its parts, so it appears she never had feet.” It has been suggested that maybe this was to show that the figurine could not leave wherever she was placed. A more common explanation again is that the figurine served as a fertility idol. Even if it did have feet it seems that it was not meant to...
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