Dissecting the Meaning of the Anatomical Venus
What is an Anatomical Venus? The Cult of Weird community dissected some lovely ladies for the answer to this week’s giveaway question on Instagram.
In 18th century Europe, wax anatomical models of idealized female figures that could be opened up and dissected became the popular method of studying human anatomy. Here’s a great description from The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic by Morbid Anatomy cofounder Joanna Ebenstein:
Of all the artifacts from the history of medicine, the Anatomical Venus?with its heady mixture of beauty, eroticism and death?is the most seductive. These life-sized dissectible wax women reclining on moth-eaten velvet cushions?with glass eyes, strings of pearls, and golden tiaras crowning their real human hair?were created in eighteenth-century Florence as the centerpiece of the first truly public science museum. Conceived as a means to teach human anatomy, the Venus also tacitly communicated the relationship between the human body and a divinely created cosmos; between art and science, nature and mankind. Today, she both intrigues and confounds, troubling our neat categorical divides between life and death, body and soul, effigy and pedagogy, entertainment and education, kitsch and art.
Get the book on Amazon right here.
For the contest, correct answers have to be submitted in the form of a photo or video post on Instagram. The more creative, the better. I narrowed down the entries to 4 finalists, then let the Cult community vote. The winner of this week’s memento mori Box of Weird is @juleababs:
There were many other great entries this week, including a dissected Barbie, a life size mannequin, and some other great works of art. Here are my favorites:
@cultofweird #cultofweird an anatomical Venus is a life-sized wax figure with human hair, used to perform fake/practice dissections and study anatomy. She is supposed to be pretty and inviting looking to ease viewers' anxieties about he morbidity of death. First anatomical Venus can be found in Italy!
Anatomical Venus – in the late 18th Century Clemente Michelangelo created wax sculptures of women with cut-away layers revealing the organs of the subjects. The artist captured the humanity of the subjects almost too well providing an intimate connection with a dissected corpse. I had a living model who didn't fancy a dissection, so here is my sharpie tribute #cultofweird
@cultofweird Here is my submission for the question: What is an #anatomicalvenus for the #cultofweird contest. 😂In my kitchen, 6:41pm Thursday night. Half #mannequin #pregnant painted,stuffed with #clay #sculpted #veins #arteries #organs #insulatingfoam #intestines and a lil #baby! Whew! #art #sculpt #wax #lmao #humor #kidney #embriotic #fetal #creepy #grotesque #odd #oddlysatisfying #bizarre #disection
Box of Weird: Memento Mori Edition
There is just ONE MORE chance this month to win a Box of Weird filled with a copy of the brand new release Ghostland by Colin Dickey courtesy of Viking Books, Hearse Driver’s Union buttons from Dead Sled Brand, a black beeswax spine candle from Grave Digger Candles, morbid patches and stickers from Poison Apple Printshop, real antique coffins screws, a diecast Matchbox hearse, and more macabre oddities. Follow @cultofweird on Instagram and turn on notifications so you don’t miss anything.
The FINAL QUESTION will be posted Monday morning.
UPDATE: 10/29/2016 The contest has ended. Here are the results of the other weeks:
- Week 1: Digging up the afterlife of Charlie Chaplin’s remains
- Week 2: Dancing on the dead at London’s Enon Chapel
- Week 4: The spirit photography of William H. Mumler