Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Mirror of Venus by Wingate Paine

In the right sidebar of this blog we have a quote from Federico Fellini about women.  This quote comes from the 1966 photographic book The Mirror of Venus, which showcased the work of American photographer Wingate Paine.  

Not as well known these days as his then Madison Avenue advertising peers Richard Avedon and Irving Penn he was, nonetheless, one of the great advertising photographers of the fifties and sixties.  Right from the Mad Men era it was in fact Paine's photography that was used in the famous Doyle Dane Bernbach Volkswagen advertisement referenced in the third episode of the first series.

Born in 1915 to an old New England family by the mid sixties, at the height of his career, he gave up advertising work and put together the photographic art book The Mirror of Venus. With text by Fellini and Francoise Sagan the book caught the essence of the new women emerging into the mid-sixties' liberated society who were starting to look at the world on their own terms and not just in reference to their men.

The three featured models came from his wife's modelling agency.  After producing all the different editions of this book he gave up photography altogether and became a spiritual teacher.  He died in 1987.

His pictures are radically different from the contemporary pin-up nudes of Playboy but they do look forward to some of the work Bob Guccione would do in Penthouse, where his sprawling, abandoned-looking models are absorbed in themselves and not gazing coyly at the lens like Playboy's women.  We are sure Guccione must have seen the book.

At the time, the pictures, which included occasional flashes of pubic hair, were considered at the border of what was acceptable in an art nudes book and these parted, perfect lips still carry a powerful erotic charge today.

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