Some neophytes may assume that only Georgia O’Keefe evoked the female sex organs in her floral paintings, but as a professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania, I urge my students to go beyond the surface of the painting and go deeper into the true meaning behind the artists’ every brushstroke. Art imitates life, and what better way to show that than to paint the source of all human life: the vagina. In my class, All Paintings Are About Vaginas 401, my students learn that every painting does indeed show a whole bunch of vagina in a number of different ways. Here are some of my favorite paintings to illustrate all the fascinating ways artists depict this elusive organ:
The Starry Night (“Vagina Trees”)
The swirling stars here may seem like a restless night sky, but upon closer inspection, we come to see that the swirls become folds. And those folds become skin. And that skin becomes a vagina. Van Gogh’s work is marked by visible brush strokes showing the deep emotions the artist had towards vaginas (he liked them). The brightest star in the painting is actually Venus, pulsing with vaginal yellow hues, crushing a sleepy idyllic town with the power of the feminine mystique. What a stunning painting of vaginas.
Guernica (“The Massacre of Vagina”)
Picasso painted this work as an anti-war response to the bombing of a town in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. However, upon closer inspection, one can clearly see a window opening with a woman, whose head sticks out. She is holding a lantern to light the way through the dark cavern of her womanhood. All she sees is destruction, war, and horses. A harrowing, abstract depiction of the fearsome power of vaginas.
The Mona Lisa (“Mysterious Vagina”)
A woman sits placidly in Da Vinci’s masterpiece, but yet, she smirks as if she has a secret. That secret is that she has a vagina. She knows this, even though it is hidden from the world underneath her many robes. The artists depicts this masterfully in the way the subject lifts the corners of her lips ever so slightly, as if to say, “Guess what other part of me has lips? It’s my pussy.” Truly the most iconic vagina painting in history.
Whistler’s Mother (“Old Vagina”)
The painting depicts the artist’s elderly mother sitting stoically in a long black dress. As the viewer, we feel that we are looking through a window at a women lost in thought. We can never know what she is thinking. But most art historians agree that she is probably thinking about vaginas. Notice how her hands are clasped together on her lap, presumably over her lady parts. The painter is using this hand placement to repel the image of his mother’s elderly vagina. This work deserves its designation as a Victorian Mona Lisa and is literally bursting with pussies.
The Persistence of Memory (“Time For Vagina”)
Salvatore Dalí was known to reuse objects as symbols of his anxieties and dreams. In this painting, clocks are used a symbol for the human female genitalia (vagina). Notice how the vaginas are melting here to show the relativity of space and time. Just like a melting clock would. Except here, it’s clearly a vagina. The fading, dreamlike face in the center of the painting is trapped under the weight of time, and also under the weight of a vagina. This makes us wrestle with the notion of fixed laws of nature and fear of a vagina crushing their face. A stirring image that asks the viewer: “What is vagina?”
The Creation of Adam (“Touch My Pussy”)
Michelangelo painted this as part of a large fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but an artist cannot but help to apply his personal mark even on religious commissions. On the surface, this painting is a depiction of God breathing life into Adam, the first man. But go deeper, and you will find the God’s finger moves toward Adam’s finger, coming into a slight V shape. V as in vagina. One could say that this telegraphs God’s intention to create a female, Eve, a pussy-haver. As God gives the spark of life to Adam, he also realizes that a do-over in the genital region might be in order.
Clearly, there are a number of paintings not referenced here that are also filled with vagina, but perhaps you now have the tools to see the vagina in work of art. As Van Gogh once said, “Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul…and at the very bottom of every soul is a vagina.”