Mia Ruyter: Renaissance Figures

The three muses, Greek goddesses who inspire artists, is a recurring subject in Renaissance oil painting. Botticelli included the three muses in his painting Primavera. Rubens painted them in 1640. Traditionally they are represented nude, standing close together, usually in a circle, touching each other. This sisterhood of talent and intelligence, mutually supportive and affirming, is familiar among many women friends.

The images for these paintings are drawn from reproductions in books of Renaissance paintings of the three muses. These paintings crop small pieces from the originals, focusing on awkward or especially intimate gestures in the original compositions. Enlarging this tiny passage from a small reproduction, each painting is an instance of imagination as well as quotation, embellishing the inadequate source (a small reproduction of a great painting) with details that may or may not have been in the original.

Memory, like history, is a low-resolution file. Later, remembering or writing history, we embellish the facts without even realizing it.

(click on image for full size version)

Breast (Rubens), 2001
Oil on canvas, 24x30 inches


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