Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Model Venus: La Première Pose by Howard Roberts

La Première Pose (1876)

Yesterday Venus Observations passed 50,000 visitors which is rather good in only just over a year. The progenitor of the site, albeit unwittingly, HMS celebrates a landmark birthday this week (we think!) so to celebrate that as well we will try to post some more Venuses for observation for the next week or so.

Here we have a sculpture we photographed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art earlier in the month. Philadelphia born Howard Roberts (1843-1900) was, like John Venderlyn, one of that generation of American artists who went to Paris to study; enrolling at the Ecole des beaux-arts in 1866 at the age of 23. He returned to Philadelphia and opened his own studio where he produced his first notable sculpture Hester and Pearl (1872).

The following year he travelled back to Paris and produced La Première Pose which is a representation of a shy model posing naked for the first time. It received a medal at the Philadelphia centennial exhibition of 1876 but also attracted some criticism for being "lewd" and not classical enough. It was influential, however, in pushing American sculpture towards more realism and away from the Italian-influenced neo-Classical tradition.

Agent Triple P thinks that it is quite splendid!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Polish Venus: Doda Elektroda

Yesterday Agent Triple P had a very enjoyable lunch with a senior government chap from Poland. We were talking about and, indeed, being served by, lovely young Polish women. There are reasons we went to war for Poland and Polish women must be one of them! The first woman Agent Triple P properly snogged (or rather, Triple P being 14 and she being 17, she snogged me) was Polish. Splendid people!

Here, as a a fine example, is Doda Elektroda or Dorota Rabczewska, to give her her correct (if rather more difficult to pronounce) name, who is a Polish singer.

She has appeared, thankfully, in Polish Playboy and is not just a pretty face (!) but has an IQ of 156 and is a member of MENSA (of whom there are only 110,000 members world wide and all of them as smug as anything).

Not only intelligent but Doda can also catch insects in flight with her tongue

Agent Triple P qualifies for MENSA but, of course, wouldn't ever join a club that would have him as a member.

Further to a request we are putting up some more pictures of Doda.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Venus by Request: Susan Ryder

US Edition March 1975

Agent Triple P is always keen to hear from his "readers" and so when this request appeared on the blog yesterday we felt that we had to grant it.

"If it's not too much to ask -- could we have the rest, or at least more, of the Susan Ryder 1975 spread? I believe -- though the vaseline treatment was so thoroughgoing it's hard to tell -- that she was the first to fully show a bare/shaved pubis in Penthouse"

A hint of what's to come

Here then, is Miss Susan Ryder from Penthouse March 1975. The Pubic Wars were still on at this time although Playboy was backing off a little (that would change a bit in 1976).

She was 21 when this pictorial was shot, by Bob Guccione himself

Over at Penthouse two trends were manifesting themselves: firstly the increasing use of soft-focus; the first really extreme example of which was Cindy McDee's set in July 1973.

Guccione really, really loved red flowers!

Susan's pictorial was one of the most diffuse so far and would set a trend for several years to come; although not everyone welcomed it.

Back in September 1972 Pet of the Year Tina McDowell had been photographed with just a little soft-focus; certainly not as extreme as Susan's here.

“Aw, c’mon Mr Guccione your Pet of the Year is a beautiful woman. Tina McDowell peeled off every stitch of clothing for you exposing her gorgeous mass of floss. And what did you do in your excitement? You got the whole damn lot of superb poses right out of focus!” said Mr Paul of Guernsey.

“Don’t confuse soft-focus with out of focus” replied Penthouse rather sniffily. Mr Paul would not have approved of this set at all, we suspect!

The second trend in the magazine was for increasing glimpses of the girls' labia. It's difficult to award the prize for the first girl to flash her bits but there is a strong argument for Lynn Carey in December 1972; although the most unequivocal shot is probably of Avril Lund in March 1973.

Even by March 1975, however, it was not a given that the Pet would display her bits. There were a lot more spread leg shots but, given how bushy girls were in those days, mostly nothing was revealed.

In the UK Susan's pictorial appeared the following month in Volume 10 Number 1

Over in Britain, where Penthouse had originated, however, there was some nervousness over this increasing explicitness. For the UK market the pictures of the girls were being subtley airbrushed or cropped to remove anything too risque.

Above we see a picture of Susan as it appeared in the UK edition. Her nether regions have been carefully blurred. Below we have the same picture as it appeared in the US edition; Susan's divided mound is clearly visible.

In addition two of the pictures in Susan's set were deemed so racy that they were left out of the UK magazine completely, as we will see.

This bold shot shows that whilst not completely shaven Susan is wispier than many of the other girls from this period and has definitely trimmed herself.

Guccione was always trying to push the envelope over what could be shown in Penthouse and there is no doubt that he knew exactly what he was doing with these photographs; some of the most explicit to have appeared yet.

The next two pictures didn't appear at all in the UK edition where they went straight to the (censored) centrefold.

It can't be a coincidence that Guccione dialled back on the soft-focus for Susan's smooth, plump pussy shot. A picture that is making a statement and is a clear precursor of the direction Guccione would be going over the next few years as his war with Playboy ended but within four months he would have a new battle on his hands with the arrival of Larry Flynt's Hustler.

Susan's Centrefold

Thursday, October 15, 2009

American Venus: Ariadne asleep on the Island of Naxos by John Vanderlyn

Agent Triple P saw this striking and historically significant painting in Philadelphia's splendid Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which was just up the road from his hotel.

Self portrait by John Vanderlyn
John Vanderlyn (1775-1852), as his name suggests, was the grandson of a Dutch emigree to New York, Pieter (1687–1778), also a painter and the son of a glazier-painter. He took classes at New York's Columbian Academy before being offered a space in the studio of eminent portraitist Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) in 1794. Stuart encouraged him to study abroad but, unlike previous American painters who had gone to London to study, Vanderlyn became the first American painter to travel to Paris. He studied at the Académie de Peinture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he was a pupil of neoclassical painter Francois-André Vincent (1746-1816). In 1800 he became the first American artist to exhibit at the Paris Salon.

Over the next few years he returned to New York, went back to Paris and then to Rome where he studied old masters and developed his portraiture and neo-classical style.

This painting, Ariadne asleep on the Island of Naxos (1809-1814), was the culmination of a series of nudes that he had attempted based on other artists works. Ariadne, however was an original composition and is really one of the very first examples of a major nude painting by an American artist. The pose echoes those of the Renaissance Venuses of Titian and Giorgione whilst exhibiting a good grounding in the French academic tradition. Needless to say, when it was first displayed in America in 1815, its sensual approach caused controversy and as late as the 1890s, when it was firmly esconced in the Pennsylvania Academy's collection, there were protests against its "flagrant indelicacy" and calls for it to be removed from display.

The painting as displayed today in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia

Vanderlyn carried on being a successful painter, although his business ventures, which largely centred on taking large 360 degree panoramas on tour were not so successful, mainly because he worked so slowly; Ariadne took him five years to complete.
The high point of his later career was when he was asked by Congress to contribute a mural to the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC. His historical epic Landing of Columbus at the Island of Guanahani, West Indies, 12 October 1492 (1836–47) making a strong, if nowadays politically incorrect, statement about Europe bringing civilisation to Native Americans. It is rumoured, however, that he hired a French artist to do much of the work on this painting.

Unlike Modigliani, in our previous post, he really only completed this one major nude. Sadly, like Modigliani, he died in poverty in 1852.

Reclining Venus: Reclining Nude from the back by Amedeo Modigliani

Modigliani: Nu couché de dos (1917)

Here is another splendid nude from the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia: Modigliani's Reclining Nude from the Back. The Barnes foundation has other Modiglianis but most are portraits. In fact, given the fact that the very name Modigliani tends to conjure up visions of his lush and sensuous nudes it is worth reflecting on the fact that only around ten percent of his output (about thirty paintings in total) actually comprised nudes.

Modigliani's birthplace in Livorno

Modigliani's life is almost a caricature of the struggling Bohemian artist. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Livorno in Italy on 12th July 1884, his mother encouraged his interest in drawing. He took drawing lessons in Livorno, Florence Rome and Venice (where he first sampled hashish) before arriving in Paris in 1906.

Modigliani in around 1904

He held his first exhibition two years later. Initially he was influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso (then in his "blue period") and Cezanne. He then became fascinated in sculpture and from 1910 until the outbreak of the Great War worked on a number of sculptures of heads and caryatids which are generally believed to have been influenced by African Art; although the influences could equally have been Cambodian or, indeed medieaval European sculpture. With the arrival of the war sculpting materials became expensive and Modigliani turned back to painting and drawing.

Unfortunately, he had no financial sense whatsoever; often giving his work away or selling his pictures for a few francs plus some alcohol (especially absinthe) to which, along with the hashish, he was becoming increasingly addicted. Modigliani had always been a sickly child and developed a fatalistic outlook on life believing that as he would never live that long he might as well enjoy himself (an outlook Triple P has some affinity with!).

From 1916, for the next two years, he began work on his series of nudes, which were considered so graphic that an exhibition of them in Paris was raided by the police in December 1917 and several pictures were confiscated as being "offensive to modesty".

Modigliani by Jeanne Hébuterne

Throughout his life Modigliani had a series of intense but stormy realtionships with women, latterly with young art student Jeanne Hébuterne. Interestingly, although he painted their portraits (and most of his output was portraits) he never painted any of these longer term partners naked. All his nude models were maids or waitresses as he could rarely afford professional models. Reputedly, he had brief affairs with all of his nude models, which is certainly reflected in their sensuous treatment.

Jeanne by Modigliani

Increasingly, Modigliani's behaviour got more and more erratic and violent and his drink and drugs consumption increased, leading to blackouts. He died on January 24th 1920 of tuberculosis. His distraught girlfriend, Jeanne who had already given him a daughter, and was nine months pregnant at the time, threw herself from the window of her parents house two days after his death, killing both herself and the unborn baby. Modigliani died destitute but his funeral was attended by all the great artists of the time. Modigliani's daughter Jeanne (1918-1984) was adopted by his sister and later wrote a biography of her father.

Jeanne Hébuterne

This particular nude is unusual in that the figure is seen from the back; the vast majority of his nudes are shown from the front. More typical is the muted background and truncated nature of the figure. Like several of his nudes from this period the pose seems to have been modelled on a famous nude from history. In this case Boucher's painting of Marie-Louise O'Murphy.

Whilst he may have painted only 30 nudes he produced many hundreds of drawings. Agent Triple P's aristocratic friend from Italy M invited him to his mother's splendid house in Rome for drinks once. All the way up the stairs were a series of five huge Modigliani drawings of nudes from this period. Very impressive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Philadelphia Venus: Lani Todd

Well for our final Agent Triple P North American tour Venus we don't apolgise for presenting yet another lovely from Playboy.

Sometimes we like nothing more than to gaze upon an artfully wrought nineteenth century European painting of a nude and sometimes we like to gaze upon a photograph of a fit young lady flashing her pussy. And today is one of those days.

Given Jennifer Lewis, the Playboy Cyber Girl we presented as our Washington DC Venus yesterday, we thought we would cunningly present the Cyber Girl who never was, in the lithe form of Miss Lani Todd.

Lani was born on June 4th, 1981 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania thus fullfilling our city tour Venus criteria perfectly.

Lani is a model, hairstylist and make up artist which must make her very popular with photographers who can economise on their styling team; always useful in these trying economic times.

Lani became Cyber Girl of the week for the first week in September 2002 but her pictorial was mysteriously pulled off the website after a very short time.

All was revealed in December when she became the Playmate of the Month for the Christmas 2002 issue. The week of 2nd-8th September 2002 is now, therefore the only week without a Cyber Girl.

Why they did this has never been clear, after all other girls had gone from Cyber Girl to Playmate but perhaps it was a heirarchical question for Playboy. A lowly Cyber Girl of the week couldn't just jump to Playmate.

After all Stephanie Heinrich, the very first Cyber Girl of the Week from September 2000, had gone on to become Cyber Girl of the Month before jumping to Playmate in October 2001.

Lani's progress was much more rapid and she jumped two stages. It's like being promoted from Captain to General in one go or being upgraded from British Airways economy to First Class.

The system just doesn't work like this so Playboy obviously realised that they had made a mistake in making hera Playmate so soon after Cyber Girl and so tried to hide the evidence!

Apart from her appearance in the magazine she has also appeared in some of the Playboy Newsstand specials (just pictures of girls without all those tiresome articles full of words) and videos.

Sadly, Agent Triple P has never been a fan of Playboy videos. They suffer from an almost complete lack of any concept of eroticism.

Girl appears clothed. Quick cut. Girl is naked. Completely missing the all important Agent DVD "tease factor".

The Penthouse videos (albeit that latterly they were slightly more explicit than the Playboy ones) were much superior in this area; mainly for realising that to be sexy you have to take things slowly.

Talking of explicit, Lani is showing a little more than most Playmates in some of these pictures and the girl on girl ones, which Penthouse started doing in the seventies, are still quite rare for Playboy. In the picture below she embraces the very perky Mia Acevado.

Below Lani is getting molested by Lynn Kelly in a rather natty see-through bath. Either that or its a very large example of those trendy glass saucepans.

One of the more popular searches that brings people to the Venus Observations site is "sauna girls" or such like. So here is a nice picture of Lani and Lynn again getting steamy.

Lani is a reasonably statuesque 5'7" and 36B-25-35 and a far from hefty 8st 13lbs. As we have seen, models love to have a cause and Lani's was doing work for Hurricane Katrina victims. Help! Help! It's getting windy!

We say a fond farewell to Lani with this very naughty, for Playboy, up the crack knickers shot. A suitable climax to our presentation of eight women from eight cities in North America now that we are safely ensconced back at home in cold and dark England!