Eleanor Antin (1935-)
Most known for her feminist works of the 70s, her more recent works include the photographic series The Last Days of Pompeii (2001), Roman Allegories (2004), and Helen’s Odyssey (2007). These series’ re-create famous works of art peppering in her own artistic license. Not only interesting and beautiful from a visual standpoint, these pieces focus on the paradigm shift of humanity. Through time man has faced the same obstacles and been fascinated by the same stories. Although we sometimes like to think societies have changed very much over time, we have actually changed very little.
The Golden Death (2001) from the series The Last Days of Pompeii is Antin’s version of Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s painting The Roses of Heliogabalus (1888). Alma-Tadema’s painting depicts banqueters being suffocated under mounds of rose petals. This is all the plan of Heliogabalus, “…the teenage Roman emperor, [who] was purported to have arranged for a shower of luxurious pink rose petals to cascade down upon revelers at a banquet, as an entertainment for his companions and also as a premeditated method for murder”.
In keeping with contemporary culture, Antin’s works sometimes feature a feminist theme. Judgment of Paris (after Rubens) from the Helen’s Odyssey (2007) series is one of her works that feature a feminist theme. Antin’s Judgment of Paris is loosely based off of the Peter Paul Rubens painting of the same title from 1632. The only similarities between the works are a likeness in background and the use of the same mythological characters. In Antin’s depiction, Paris and Hermes judge the goddesses Athena, Aphrodite and Hera. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, warfare and crafts is represented with a bob-style haircut, in camouflage gear holding a machine gun. Hera, the goddess of marriage and women is depicted as the stereotypical 1950s housewife, vacuuming leaves in a pair of heels and a dress with pearls. Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty appears as a glamorous actress from old Hollywood.