Blog Entry 2

By Christopher Peak

Venus de Milo – Alexandros of Antioch

Between 150 and 125 BC

For this exercise, I chose the famous Venus de Milo sculpture from Ancient Greece. This is quite possibly the most reconizable work to have been produced out of the Ancient Greeks, and I wanted to see if it would pass Kant’s standards of beauty. Personally, I am a fan of this art so I will try my best to justify Kants arguement without a lingering sense of my identity diluting the message.

The criticism I chose upon this work was labelled Armless Propaganda: The Story of Venus de Milo by Lindsay Shapka. On her arguement of why this sculpture has gained notoriety, she states that it had become famous due to the Lourve losing a previous sculpture named Venus de’ Medici:

Cleomene di Apollodoro, venere medici, I secolo ac ca.jpg

and through Frances hegemony upon the realm of art, began to propagandize Venus de Milo to be the center of Hellenistic culture and creativity. What she does say in terms of her beauty is that she is undoubtedly beautiful, so beautiful that her image used to be on the seal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In my opinion this is not a compelling argument. Maybe this post isn’t so much of a critique as it doesn’t go into the challenges it faces against other pieces, but it is rooted in a slander of art being brought up to be the pinnacle of a period simply due to institutions of power deeming it to be.

For Kant’s theory, I wanted to focus on the first moment, because I believe this piece highlights with the aspects of pleasure. Of page 310 in PAB, Kant states the reasoning of this moment, that it is not really the art that is pleasurable but the filter of the mind that makes the artwork pleasant, not pleasurable. “In a pure judgement of taste, the satisfaction in the object is combined with the mere act of judging its form, it is nothing else than its subjective purposiveness for the judgment which we feel to be mentally combined with the representation of the object” (pg310).

To put this in perspective of the Venus de Milo, what is it from my mind that is making me think the artwork is a pleasant artwork, not a pleasurable one? Starting with the obvious point; the female body in a raw form is enticing in itself, and has been a category of beauty and desire since the dawn of creation. To where statues of Hercules may seem as the dominant underlying view of masculinity, statues of Aphrodite can be reigned upon the dominant representation of the feminine. I am stating this because as a man staring at Venus de Milo, what feeling is supposed to arise within my head? A cold reality of the female form has always revolved the sanctity of her nudity, to where a woman must be clothed around her breasts and a man does not have to be. I am only stating this because it puts a prejudgment upon the art itself due to the world’s standards of examination. I believe this is a key component to exemplify how this artwork might not pass Kant’s first moment, as it relates to pleasant that the mind creates based on our wants. I believe a lot of art and film that is dominated by nudity creates this cloud of pleasant, and this pleasant erodes the meaning of beauty, as it highlights a deeper primal wanting within ourselves, not an objective reality. To say it is beautiful within other means is justified, but this cannot pass Kant’s first moment, as the interest of this particular work is too rooted within our own desires of the pleasant.

I only state these views in disagreement because whenever I stare at this marble body, I create the idea of the Greek imperfect idealized woman within my head, no matter the strength of disinterest. To relate to the other video we watched in class where she analyzed the painting, it was of an environment which I believe was easier to break down. This statue is inherently objective of what it’s trying to portray, and from the previous Greek works of flawlessness, Venus de Milo shows a change of how the imperfections that may disinterest one from viewing are the most important factors of individuality. Unfortunately for me, the pleasant clouds my head and does not allow this piece to the first moment for me.

Someone who might disagree with my statement would say that it is a very sexist appeal to beauty in how I cannot disinterest myself of the artwork and its form. I would respond that it is due to my interpretation of history, culture and empire is to why I cannot detach one from the other, and to do so would to rob the humanity of the artwork as a whole. Art such as this sculpture is made to be “categorized”, as it provides the meaning to its existence. Otherwise it would be be viewed as simple marble.


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