Share
Explore BrainMass

Purpose and Function of the Female Nude in Paleolithic Art

When one mentions the nude in Paleolithic art, the most commonly pictured example is the so-called "Venus of Willendorf." While this figurine is the most famous, it is only one of many such representations. Before an explanation of the purpose and function of these images is begun, it is important to note that many of the early interpretations of these representations were subject to the influence of the time and culture in which they were originally found.

Another important thing to note is that when a person creates a work of art there is always a purpose, whether it be religious, sociological, or even merely aesthetic. Why is this relevant? It is relevant because when one endeavors to understand meaning behind a work of art, one must focus on which elements are emphasized and which are subordinate.

The above are two considerations when considering hypotheses that have been raised to explain the purpose or function of nude female figures in Paleolithic art.

The full solution lists the most prevalent and widely accepted theories regarding purpose and function of the female nude in Paleolithic Art, as well as some ideas why some of these ideas were developed and proposed (including religious and societal influences.)

Solution Preview

When one mentions the nude in Paleolithic art, the most commonly pictured example is the so-called "Venus of Willendorf." While this figurine is the most famous, it is only one of many such representations. Before an explanation of the purpose and function of these images is begun, it is important to note that many of the early interpretations of these representations were subject to the influence of the time and culture in which they were originally found. The Willendorf piece is a stone statuette, approximately 11.1 cm long, that was found in 1908 near the village of Willendorf in Austria. The object was originally dated at around 10,000 BC, however, several different tests and theories were put forth (one of which dated it to nearly 30,000 BC). A study of the stratigraphy of the surrounding soil determined that the date should be roughly 22,000 BC.

Due to the fact that the figurine was found in the early 1900s, the interpretation of the piece was influenced by a predominantly male ...

Solution Summary

This solution offers a brief and concise overview of the prevailing ideas regarding the purpose and function of the nude female figure as subject matter in Paleolithic Art. An short analysis of the historical archaeological attitudes regarding gender issues is included as well.

$2.19