“The Rape of Europa” is the title of an 1873 painting by J.M.W. Turner, which depicts the abduction of Europa by Zeus in a story from Greek mythology. The Gardner Museum has put on display a new version of this painting that replaces the goddess with a woman who appears to be wearing a hijab and whose face is covered by her veil.
The Women, Myth & Power’ at Gardner Museum puts Rape of Europa in new light is a story about the ancient Greek myth of Europa.
This is an example of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reviewer arriving late to a tale, as though too preoccupied to do so until now. The plot revolves on rape.
The New York Times art critic Holland Cotter compared Titian’s painting Rape of Europa in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston to a “small supernova” (you know, like an explosion of a star). The blast’s brightness apparently blurred his eyesight, leading him to remark that the artwork “raises serious concerns about how aesthetics and ethics may collide.”
Holland, where have you been?
In her book “Where Ethics and Aesthetics Meet: Titian’s Rape of Europa,” published in 2003, art historian A. W. Eaton posed the same issue. It’s difficult to comprehend why, even if you hadn’t read it, you’re just now seeing that Europa is being raped. The artwork does not, however, represent the actual act. However, it depicts a terrified woman spread-eagled with her clothes disordered and her kidnapper, Zeus, lurking close in the shape of a leering bull. All of this should have forewarned you a long time ago.
Perhaps your omg response is due to the fact that there are six Titian paintings in one room. And, considering that each depicts a power struggle with a woman, the effect was felt strongly.
It’s not for nothing that the museum calls the show “Women, Myth & Power.”
Your late discovery that Titian’s beautiful images are awful scenario, on the other hand, is a supernova in and of itself. I’m picturing you shouting that this exhibit “marks an art historical victory” for the institution. There is no coup here, Holland, no historical upheaval.
These images date back to the sixteenth century. You must have seen them previously in your years at the Times, which began in 1998.
The exhibit in Boston isn’t brand new; it’s already on display at the National Gallery in London and the Prado in Madrid. Yet, as if discovering something, you claim that, in light of the #Metoo movement and ongoing stories of sexually abused women, Rape of Europa should put us all on “red alarms today.” It should have notified us much sooner.
However, you are correct in wondering how such work from five centuries ago can be appreciated through the lens of today. When you remark that Rape of Europa raises questions about “whether any work, no matter how magnificent, can be regarded immune from moral scrutiny,” I agree. Clearly, museums must do more than record the facts on artists’ tombstones.
“The picture is powerful,” you say in your inquiry. But is it lovely?” – a good point. Aesthetics are no longer enough to sustain art. The complexities of our time demand that we think about them. Power plays over women should be included in current cultural material in art museums that exhibit narrative images of power plays over women painted when that was a way of life.
Their display placards need to be redesigned.
With this show, the Gardner definitely succeeds. The museum commissioned two artists to create a video that gives Europa a voice in order to “liberate her from the subservience and mute role she had long been compelled to play in the old myth,” according to the institution’s website.
Perhaps viewing Titian through the eyes of a twenty-first-century observer was what enlightened you, Holland.
DISCLAIMER: ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED
The female mythology names is a name given to the Greek myth of Europa, who was raped by Zeus. This exhibition at the Gardner Museum in Boston puts this myth into a new light.
- what is the myth of the woman beauvoir
- female heroes in greek mythology
- beautiful woman in greek mythology
- strong women in greek mythology
- female villains in greek mythology