Our modern day Venus, Beyoncé
When one thinks of the word “art,” one typically associates it with famous paintings and their creators, such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Da Vinci. As time has gone by and artists have evolved, so too has the technology used to create spectacular works of art. In the early twentieth century, photography grew into an art form in its own right. No longer could art only be defined as a visual form using a type of drawing instrument or clay.
Since photography has evolved in development from darkrooms to iPhones, it is no question that photography is now a popular and successful visual art form. A location where this is clearly evident is Instagram. Because of this newfound fascination with Instagram as a visual medium — and of course the world’s fascination with celebrities — it is no question that the most liked photo in Instagram history was the majestic art piece that was Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement.
With over 10,239,082 likes, the picture shows Beyoncé clasping her stomach, with the caption announcing that her family is adding two more members. The interesting aspect of this picture is the nod Beyoncé and her photographer Awol Erizku gave to Renaissance art, namely Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.”
“The Birth of Venus” features Venus in the center of the painting, modestly showing off her idyllic body standing in a conch shell. The landscape that surrounds her highlights not only the flora and water but the faces of her admirers. On her right, Zephyrus, the God of Winds, along with the breeze itself, Aura, blow the Goddess of Love to the shore. The key aspect of the painting is Venus’ hair. Her luscious locks highlight her face and body in an act of seduction as well as glamour.
Beyoncé’s picture features her in the center of the photo, also surrounded by flora and fauna. Beyonce’s hair is similar to Venus, although covered by a modest veil, another Renaissance motif. The veil is used as a device to not only capture her beauty but also to add to the mystery of the woman that she is. The original purpose of veils worn by brides during weddings was to symbolize the virginity of the bride. Because the veil covers the bride’s face, the groom is the sole person who can see the true beauty and power of his beloved. Beyoncé also keeps a part of herself hidden from the general public.
Though Venus shows more skin, Beyoncé shows enough to give off a sensual vibe. Her gaze also resembles Venus’ with a luscious “side-eye” of sorts. Similar to Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Beyoncé’s eyes have the ability to sneak into the viewer’s soul.
In viewing the other photos in Beyoncé’s pregnancy photoshoot, we see how Erizku references more works of art, including one where her hair is down covering her nude body as she is surrounded by plants. There is another picture that resembles Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” in which Beyoncé undoubtedly plays the role of God and her daughter Blue Ivy portrays Adam. The mother and daughter gaze longingly at each other holding a flower. The third photo takes place on top of a car filled with flowers with a blue sky backdrop, a nod to more modern art.
Beyoncé has changed the idea of what it means to be a musician and a woman in the twenty-first century. With these maternity shots, she now presents a new idea that combines the past and present of what it truly means to create a work of art.