The arthistorical archive gives an overview of the depiction of the female sex starting from the European Paleolithic up to the present day art by means of various examples. The texts on different periods serve as an introduction in order to offer information on the politicial and cultural events of the time, on the women's role and stilistic characteristics relating to art. The art works of particular periods were chosen exemplarily and make no claim to completeness. They illustrate the style of the period and serve as documents for particular stages of development:

In prehistoric times, the depiction of the vulva represented the female power as life-giver. Her value regarding the existence of humanity was highly respected. Mostly, the pudental cleft and the vulva triangle were depicted, some Venus figures also showed the labia. In Antiquity, the woman's pubic area was an even vulva triangle; the sex was tabooed and presented incompletely. At the time, the existing vulva charms had an apotropaic effect in order to prevent from disasters. The vulva of Baubo figurines was shown in a stylized way. During the Middle Ages, the image of the woman changed which was partly due to church. Woman was regarded as being inferior to man and as incarnation of sin. Figures which are pointing to their vulva might have been a caricature of the Celtic goddess Mórrígan and were positioned outside of churches in order to prevent people from misbelief and to show woman's dangerousness[1]. Art history often accesses classical works of art, for example those of the Renaissance and Classicism. This is why the incomplete depiction of the female sex in the form of the even vulva triangle was adopted and represented in European art history through centuries with the exception of the Nordic Renaissance artists around Albrecht Dürer[2]. Their intention was to depict people as lifelike as possible. Therefore, some pictures from this latitude and time occasionally showed the vulva together with the pudental cleft in a mythological context and thus idealised. During Baroque, in 'salon painting' as well as in Classicism and other styles, the woman was an erotic object of desire and served men's curiosity. During Modernism, society changed and this period of transition created new ideas and styles. The vulva was naturally in the center of the picture and was no longer depicted in a passive way. The woman in nudes were active, for example in Klimt's works, insofar as they were painted in masturbation scenes. According to different styles, the vulva appeared in an abstract, stylized, fragmented and imaginary way. In Postmodernism, artists among others engaged in gender and identity topics until feminist art called for intensive work with topics like woman, vagina and vulva.

Archive Art History: Concept, scientific elaboration and text: © Mag.a Sara Buchbauer

We tried to research and quote all image and photography rights. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to contact each and every artist. Please contact Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein! in case of any proposal for modification.