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Jackie Felix (1929-2009 ), Barbie Series: Barbie Pyramid, c. 1997-98; acrylic on canvas mounted on Masonite, 25 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches; Collection of Rachel Hofmeister Kautz

Jackie Felix (1929-2009 ), Barbie Series: Barbie Pyramid, c. 1997-98; acrylic on canvas mounted on Masonite, 25 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches; Collection of Rachel Hofmeister Kautz

In works such as Barbie Pyramid (c. 1997-98), Felix would contrast the anatomically impossible Barbie doll with the world's earliest known artwork, a Neolilthic sculpture known as the Venus of Willendorf. Dating from around 24,000-22,000 BCE, this small limestone nude female figure is believed to have been a revered fertility talisman. Other artists, such as photographer Irving Penn, also found it inspirational. His gelatin silver print, Nude #1 (1949-50) shows a similarly voluptuous goddess body, cropped to focus on the torso from neck to knees- an "earthly body" in sharp contrast to the rail-thin fashion models he photographed at Vogue magazine for his livelihood. Like Penn, Felix explored how the female body has symbolized sexuality, desire, servitude, innocence, power, and immorality. -Nancy Weekly