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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Venus by George Petty

Here is a lovely Halloween witch  by pin up artist George Petty (1894-1975).

The long-legged "Petty Girl" mainly appeared in Esquire from 1933 until 1956 and this example was the October image from their 1947 Calendar.  Petty girls were very popular during World War 2 and it was copy of one of his pin ups which adorned the nose of the famous B17 Flying Fortress The Memphis Belle.

More Petty Girls another day.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Danish Venus: Ekko by Aksel Hansen

 Ekko (1888)

The most famous bronze girl in Copenhagen is, of course, The Little Mermaid, the sculpture of which celebrates her one hundreth birthday this year.  This week Triple P has been back in the capital of Denmark and discovered this fine bronze in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens, the oldest park in the city, while en route to the National Gallery.

This statue is by Aksel Hansen (1853-1933) who started his sculpting career as a wood carver and stone mason.  He was later influenced by Art Nouveau which is apparent in his Ekko figure.  There is another copy of this figure in his birthplace, Odense.  Hansen has really captured the look of a young nymph and her current position has her emerging from a hedge, which works quite well.

In Greek mythology Echo was a mountain nymph who would tell stories to Zeus' wife Hera to distract her from the fact that Zeus was ravishing all the other mountain nymphs while she was listening to Echo.  On discovering this Hera took away Echo's ability to speak except for being able to repeat what someone else had just said.  Echo fell in love with Narcissus but he spurned her leading to her withering away. In another version of the story she is pursued by the god Pan but ends up being killed by shepherds as she tries to escape him.  Yet another version has her bearing Pan two children.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Venus with Doves by François Boucher

Time for an actual Venus on Venus Observations today. This lovely study by Boucher uses, as was not uncommon, a classical title as an excuse for showing a contemporary naked girl.  The anatomical completeness of this shows that it was one of the many pictures he produced for "private collectors"; often using his wife as a model.  

Boucher puts her bald mound dead centre in the composition and ensures that her vulva and the surrounding parts of her body are more brightly lit than her upper body, face and lower legs.  It's quite clear what you are supposed to be thinking about!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Venus returns: Lui magazine relaunched in France - a review

It's back, with a lot of front!

Classic French men's magazine Lui was relaunched last month, after a break of 19 years since the last official issue.  The cover of the new incarnation features French actress Léa Seydoux wearing just a transparent chiffon cape designed by Alexandre Vauthier. It's a good strong cover shot by Mario Sorrenti and it is nice to see the original Lui logo back in a deep, rich purple which matches Mlle. Seydoux's cape. As it is, the cover would be too revealing for both the UK or the US but the French have a much more sensible view of nudity, exemplified by the topless models in TV beauty products (when a UK firm tried a similar approach in a TV commercial shown after 9.00pm there was an uproar), on posters in the streets and on magazine covers, of course. There is a gratifyingly small amount of text on the cover and we have to give it full marks for design.  Sexy and elegant.

Lui magazine was quite literally France's answer to Playboy, first appearing in 1963. Created by Daniel Filipacchi it was published by the Filipacchi group until 1994.  Plummeting sales saw the title sold and it was bought by another publisher. Michel Birnbaum the publisher of French Penthouse who produced another fourteen issues under the name Le Nouveau Lui between 1995 and 1997.

Original Lui creator Daniel Filipacchi in his heyday

New editorial director Frédéric Beigbeder acknowledged the contribution of Filipacchi enough to feature an interview with him in the first issue.  Agent Triple P has acquired a copy of this issue to examine what is the first major men's magazine launch for many years.  Interestingly, in France at least, men's magazines circulation are seeing a rebound with a 2.8% growth in 2012 compared with a 3.4% drop in women's magazines sales for the same period. Despite Beigbeder describing the new magazine as for "heterosexual bastards" the publishers expect 30% of the readers to be women.  Whether that is women reading their men's copies or buying their own isn't made clear. Certainly three of the key staff are women, with Yseult Williams, who launched Grazia's French edition, being editor in chief.

The initial impression is of a very high quality production indeed.  It's also quite chunky, coming in at 218 pages and perfect bound.  It has the heft that Playboy used to have and no longer does.  It's also very cheap at just €2.90 - considerably less than most UK monthly magazines.  This is because of the massive amount of advertising they have managed to attract.  These are top names as well: Chanel, Dior, Georgio Armani, Bulgari, BMW, Kenzo, Hermes, Visa, Nespresso, Yves Saint Laurent, Paul Smith, Paco Rabanne, Ducati, Fiat, Jeep and on and on.  There is no nervousness about putting their name to a magazine with naked women in here, obviously.  Probably, also, in France there would be an element of nationalistic support for reinventing a French national icon.  

Léa Seydoux

Jean-Yves Le Fur, who is behind the new magazine, has said that it will not be like the old one.  He believes that the internet has destroyed any possibility of old style Lui photographs of women being successful.  We think he is wrong on this as we will explain shortly.  While he has said that there will always be a woman on the cover there will be no centrefolds and his approach is to have top photographers photograph actresses (very old Lui) and fashion models (also very old Lui).

Another old Lui feature is the return of the full page pin up art..  In the original Lui these were done by the legendary Aslan, copying the Vargas nudes in Playboy.  The new ones are done by the young French artist/photographer Jonathan Bey in coloured pencil.  We are certainly looking forward to more of these.

Léa Seydoux's is the first pictorial in the issue (96 pages in) and features an interview with the Palme d’Or winning actress, plus 12 pages of photographs.  Her controversial lesbian love story La vie d’Adèle (Blue is the Warmest Colour in English speaking markets) (2013) hits the big screen shortly.  Her pictorial is the best in the magazine. The initial print run of Lui is for 350,000 copies, which is what the old Lui was achieving in the late seventies and early eighties, with 15,000 copies having 16 pages of English text inserted at the back offering abbreviated versions of some of the articles for the English language market.  It is certainly a magazine that has more articles than pictorials covering culture, politics and current affairs.  It is very much a grown up publication with the target market being from 30 to 50 years of age.  This contrasts with Playboy which has been desperately chasing the younger demographic, unsuccessfully, for years.  It will be interesting to see if this works.  For some time Triple P has thought that rebranding Playboy to aim at an older readership would be sensible, especially if they can tap into the nostalgia market.

However, this is where I think Lui has got it wrong; particularly with the pictures. The second pictorial Plein soleil by Mikael Jansson looks exactly like a fashion shoot for a continental woman's magazine.  In fact all the pictorials look like pages from Vogue or Elle.  This one, oddly, being a couples one, harks back to the boy girl pictorials of Oui, the Americanised version of Lui which Filipacchi set up in conjunction with Playboy's Hugh Hefner in 1972.  Except they were not part of the French material used in the US but were shot in America.  These are pictorials aimed at a younger artistic sensibility.

Each picture in this pictorial, and there are some of just the woman alone, feature credits for clothes and accessories although in the picture above the couple are not flogging anything.  Even when they are not advertorial the pictorials have a host of credits attached.  Plein soleil, then, is a bit of a curious hybrid pictorial then: part arty erotic feature, part fashion feature but far preferable to the male models posing in the likes of GQ.

The only problem with the pictures, and actually this is true of virtually all of them, is that most carry no erotic charge at all.  In the old Lui even a photograph of a woman's face (and they featured quite a few portraits of their models) often dripped sensuality.  This curious picture at least tries a bit of shock value as the girl in the shower lets water run over her, inevitably, bald mound while the fully dressed man takes a piss.


One of the problems is that too many of the pictures are shot in a similar style; the now increasingly pervasive single camera mounted flash picture as exemplified by this shot from Terry Richardson in the magazine's third pictorial.  It gives the pictures and, indeed the women, a very cool, sterile quality.


The fourth pictorial features Polish model turned actress Malgosia Bela, who featured in the Pirelli Calendar in 2009 and 2012.  Probably not coincidentally she is the girlfriend of  Lui's president, Jean-Yves Le Fur.


At least half of the shots of the models are black and white and the colour ones have that equally trendy pale, washed-out look which, again, takes all the life out of them.  The fifth pictorial, of Isabeli, has another very beautiful girl.  In fact you cannot fault the beauty of the models but they do pretty much all have that semi-emaciated fashion model look (probably because they are all semi-emaciated fashion models).  Some different body types would be nice.

Somewhat surprisingly, given their approach elsewhere, one of the models, Zoe, displays a glimpse of her labia as she ascends a staircase.  This is done in a perfectly natural way but they could have PhotoShopped her or left the pose out which they didn't.  The real problem, we think, is that they are so worried about having sexy pictures in the magazine and not being taken seriously (and a lot of the articles are very serious) that they have gone slightly too far the other way. Whether it's because they don't want to offend women or whether it's because there are too many woman on the team (exactly half or the editorial and creative team) we're not sure. Certainly Beigbeder's "heterosexual bastard" would expect a bit more oomph from the pictorials than the magazine delivers. The models are just naked women photographed without any attempt at sensuality.  It will be interesting to see if they stick to this or try to mix up the styles a bit.  

So, a very interesting first issue and we were surprised that they had as many as six pictorials.  We are sure the first edition will sell well but we have now ordered the second one to see if they can maintain interest and perhaps offer some more visual variation.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Non centrefold Venus of the Month 21: Brie Phillips, May 1978

We have given up trying to post our centrefolds and non centrefolds of the month every month as the amount of formatting they take involves a disproportionate amount of our time.  That doesn't mean that we won't continue to fill in the gaps when we get the opportunity, though, but may try and drop in some briefer entries, such as this one, in order to catch up.  Anyway Brie is a model about whom we cannot find anything else so she may have been one of those many girls who posed for Penthouse and was never seen again in print.

Brie Phillips appeared in the May 1978 issue of Penthouse; photographed by Jim Foxx in, we are told, the Caribbean.  This pictorial has been posted following a request from one of our readers, who spotted the picture of her in one of our Pubic Wars posts and wanted to see more.  Something we are always happy to do if we have time.

Only Penthouse, at this time, would include a photograph of the sunset in one of their pictorials.  Just after sunrise and just before sunset, of course, being very good times to get some nice warm light on a naked body. 

In our initial look at Brie she is depicted on on the beach and getting very interactive with some waves.  It must be odd to be named after a cheese but perhaps she pronounced it differently or perhaps they don't eat Brie in America (I'm sure they do!).  Triple P was in Western Australia once and popped into a shop in the pretty wine town of Margaret River.  He saw some local Margaret River Brie (the Australians didn't worry about internationally registered local food trademarks at that point - you could still buy red "Burgundy" there) advertised in the window and fancied a piece.  Oddly, the piece behind the counter pronounced it "Bry" rather than "Bree".

Brie (or Bry) is next shown cavorting around a swimming pool and Mr Foxx catches some shots of nice water droplets on her skin.

The next shot is the naughtiest one in the pictorial although, for 1978, it's not that naughty really.  It's the only one of Brie in stockings and very delicious she looks too.  She's be very tasty with a baguette and a bottle of Provence rosé .

Next the photographer poses her with a piece of fruit but obviously thinking that an apple is a bit dull he gives her a banana to play with instead.

Brie has much more fun with this than the apple.  Very subtle.

Next we have Brie out in the hot sun and looking nicely shiny in her seventies shades.

Not as shiny as in the final shot where she is giving her self a good oil up.  Typically photographers use lots of baby oil on a model when she has gone and got herself sun burnt by lolling around the pool too long with not very much (if anything) on.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Clickable Centrefold Venus of the Week

We have made the Centrefold Venus of the Week in the right sidebar clickable so you will be able to see her in all her full sized glory from now on.

Thanks to B for telling us how to do this.

Now we have this facility we will try to keep them up to date!

They will all be on our new blog Centrefold Venuses of the Week where we can just post pictures without having to worry about all that time consuming multiple picture formatting and words!