Photoshopped art raises questions about beauty perceptions

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Many of us know celebrities appearing in print media are often Photoshopped. But one Italian artist is taking the idea of creating Photoshopped beauty to the next level.

Classic paintings of mythical figure Venus by such artists as Botticelli and Bouguereau have been redone with Photoshop by artist Anna Utopia Giordano.

My first instinct was to question why someone would ever take a classic work, make minor changes and claim it as their own. Could building off of well-reputed works of the past really have others see you as a high quality artist? Where is the line of plagiarism drawn?

Looking at artists of the Renaissance, Giordano’s purpose of her works becomes more apparent and justifies her minor changes.

The topic of beauty fascinated many artists during this period. They would spend their lives developing the perfect proportions of the body that create a mathematically perfect and beautiful human figure.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” is a fitting example of how bodily lengths were extensively analyzed during the Renaissance to invoke a sense of beauty within the viewer.

But Giordano must have noticed something. The canons these artists focused on have changed dramatically over time.

Giordano may have seen the disconnect with the Renaissance version of ideal beauty while she worked as a model and actress.  Proportions of what was beautiful then might be considered “pleasantly plump” today. A beautiful women in today’s society now has to have curvier hips, larger breasts and thinner waists and thighs.

Looking at celebrities in any magazine, you will see these are some things altered in their photographs to make them “beautiful.”  Even British pop singer, Adele has been “visually enhanced” for covers on magazines.

In Giordano’s pieces, the figures of Venus are edited to fit today’s standards of beauty. As one might expect, the figures have been dramatically altered to a near anorexic and almost provocative form much like the celebrities in magazines.

It challenges our definition of beauty in today’s world, and I am a fan. Comparing the two images next to each other, I could not help but question if the original figures of Venus are still considered beautiful.

Would someone find the original work more beautiful than Giordano’s renditions? Maybe only the people during Renaissance times could think the edits are not attractive.

Regardless of what different eras think, beauty is not only a physical concept, but a socially structured concept that can include everything not visible to the naked eye.  Beauty can be found not just in physical appearance, but in content of character and its interactions with the surrounding environment.

In the field of art, content is often lost because of the process of creating the perfect arrangement.  Giordano’s art has content showing us there is no timelessly beautiful form.

Hundreds of years from now, society’s definition of beauty will likely be significantly different.  What is considered beautiful today may be laughed at tomorrow.

She’s questioning society’s views of beauty not only in her Venus works, but in another series of works as well.  In her “My Social Generation: Please, don’t try this at home!” series, she takes photographs of herself in poses that would be used on social networks by teenagers and Photoshops them.

The photos are unfortunately accurate in depicting how minors are displaying themselves online.  Is displaying oneself at awkward camera angles considered “beauty” in today’s society for children?

It’s hard to believe something like a poorly edited Facebook picture can be art. But in Giordano’s context, it serves a new purpose and it becomes art.

For one, why are we letting ideas of beauty get to our heads? In a society where taking and sharing a photo of yourself can be done in seconds, beauty quickly becomes an important factor in what photos are shared with the world and which ones are not.

Would you ever set your profile picture as yourself with no make up, just woken up and with a grumpy look on your face?

If you answered no, think about who your “beautiful” photos are actually affecting.  Will someone see your “beautiful” photo and be so inspired that their life has changed in any way, shape or form?

You can affect a lot more people by having a beautiful personality.   It is important not to worry about making ourselves beautiful.

We are not works of art. We hold more content than artwork. Unlike art, we have the ability to display content more than our physical appearance.  Put more time into what we do as a people, not what we look like as people.

So get yourself away from your webcam. Don’t do your makeup today.  Instead, you can hold the door for a stranger, pay for someone else’s meal and keep a friendly attitude towards everyone.

Then perhaps you can legitimately be considered beautiful by having beautiful content in your personality.