The Venus of Willendorf
On 7 August 1908, one hundred and twelve years ago, this beautiful, 11-centimetre statue was unearthed. It goes back to 23,000 and 19,000 B.C., i.e. the Palaeolithic. But let us stick with 1908. It was a summer day, and the planned start for the construction of the Donauuferbahn which ran through a small village in Lower Austria called Willendorf. A land survey is carried out before the start and, right next to this small village, archaeologist Josef Szombathy unearthed the object which would make him famous. Just 25 cm beneath the ground to find one of the greatest works of art which today is housed in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
The Venus of Willendorf is a woman which straddles nature and symbolism. Her exaggerated fertile shape is conveyed by means of a large, spherical stomach. Her face is presumably covered by a veil or hair, and her arms, crossed across her breast, are but outlined. What really takes centre stage are her enormous breasts, her prominent stomach, and her pelvis. According to experts, the statue is linked to the cult of Mother Earth, the same mother that we, ungrateful children that we are, are making infertile with our polluting, deforesting, overbuilding with rash abandon and no respect.