March 6, 2011

Topless: Jean Fouquet, Helmut Newton

Jean Fouquet invented the miniature painting and painted this Madonna with angels (1450), which for me resembles a perfect depiction of "pre-modern" women: in her role of perfect, Christian mother. Huizinga pointed out the truth: Fouquet was in love with Agnès Sorel, so he portraited her as Mary to undercover his erotic paiting, since Agnès was the mistress of the King. So voilà! A mixture of religious fervor and erotic desire.

The second image is a portrait of Kylie Bax taken by Helmut Newton (1996). It represents a modern woman, also an object of desire, but full of that 'sort' of consciousness that Germans call 'Selbstbewusst', which for me is a mixture of (internal) consciousness and (external) awareness at the same time. This modern woman is emancipated, has no child, drinks alcohol, wears a cocktail dress, and is surrounded by no angels, but by mundane possessions.

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