Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Design Always Repeats Itself: Woman from Willendorf and Barbie Edition Part 2

Remember this lady:

Yeah, I thought you might. 

Woman from Willendorf was probably one of the first slides you saw in your college general education Art History course. She was found in Austria and dates from about 22,000-21,000 BCE. She is carved from limestone and was originally painted with red ocher. She is just over 4" high. 

Woman, or Venus from Willendorf, depending when you went to college, has been regarded for a long time by scholars as a fertility goddess from the Upper Paleolithic period. She has an exaggerated body with an emphasis on her reproductive organs. Her stomach is bulbous, possibly referring to pregnancy or a female body that is fertile. Some scholars even suggest her feet are pointy so that she can be stuck into the ground and worshipped. 

One thing is for sure though- we really don't know what Woman from Willendorf was in the Upper Paleolithic period. We can guess, but we really don't know.  

Now imagine that the next image was all that was left of our society 20,000 years from now:

Barbie has similar distortions to Woman, her legs and feet are pointy, she could easily be stuck in the ground. And as much as we'd like to deny it, Barbie has been an important American symbol. Her impact on our culture and society has been vast. 

Maybe Woman from Willendorf was nothing but a toy. If you believe the theory I believe, then one thing is true: people are the same, art is the same, one culture, one time-period to the next. 

- Grace


  1. FUn topic!
    one main difference is that Barbie gas a face and the woman does not...why?

  2. It's not a "perfect" comparison in that not all aspects of each align. However, Woman, is thought not to have a face from a fertility goddess stand-point because she is every woman, a generic woman. Barbie's face can be compared to statues from a later period. I can post about eyes and faces in the future.

    - Grace


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