Venus de Miami 2017

John William Bailly
Venus de Miami, 2017 (10,000 Years of Miami)
Oil on canvas
72 x 86 inches / 183 x 244 centimeters
Courtesy of the Artist

Bailly made two paintings of the Cutler Fossil Site that were started in 2015 and completed in 2017. Venus de Miami is one of these two oldest known artworks to depict the Cutler Fossil Site, the oldest archeological site in Southeast Florida. Bailly first visited the Cutler Fossil Site on 07 December 2015 with Miami-Dade Archeologist Jeff Ransom.

Bailly on his first visit to the Cutler Fossil Site on 07 December 2015. (Photo in Public Domain)

At the site, Bailly was able to engage the human history of the land now known as Miami in a direct manner never before possible for him. He was particularly captivated by the human remains of a female at the site. Being familiar with the numerous and spectacular artworks named Venus throughout history, Bailly decided to paint a Venus de Miami. Bailly was particularly inspired by three works that he had seen in person.

Anonymous. Venus of Willendorf, c. 25,000 BCE. Naturhistorisches Museum Wien.
John William Bailly. Etude de Venus de Milo, 30 Mai 2021 (In Situ). Graphite on Arches paper. 7 x 10 in / 18 x 26 cm.
Sandro Botticelli. Birth of Venus, c. 1485. Oil on tempera. 172.5 x 278.5 cm. Le Gallerie degli Uffizi.

Bailly began the process of incorporating the Cutler Fossil Site into his work in December 2015, through an oil sketch and three small works on paper. Bailly then transferred his drawing onto a large canvas in the Carriage House Studio at the Deering Estate.

John William Bailly. Cutler Fossil Site Studies, 2015. Oil on canvas.
Bailly’s Studio in the Carriage House at the Deering Estate in 2016. (Photo by JW Bailly/CC BY 4.0)

Bailly began the studies of the Venus figure in March 2017. Other commissions and projects, however, stalled the development of the work. Bailly left to Italy in May 2017, with the work unfinished. The 2017 trip to Italy was a transformative time in Bailly’s painting.

Studies for Venus de Miami in 2017 (Photo by JW Bailly / CC BY 4.0)
The Grand Tour of 2017 marked a radical shift in Bailly’s work, particularly the Venus de Miami.

Bailly returned to the work in August 2017, but Hurricane Irma hit Miami. While simultaneously recovering from Irma, Bailly returned to Venus de Miami, developing the figure. It is at this time that he introduced the bats surrounding Venus in a loose Fibonacci Spiral.

Hurricane Irma hits Miami in September 2017. (Photo by JW Bailly/CC BY 4.0)
John William Bailly. Venus de Miami (earlly state), 2017. Oil on Canvas. 72 x 86 in / 183 x 244 cm.
John William Bailly. Venus de Miami (earlly state), 2017. Mixed media on paper. 22 x 30 in / 56 x 76 cm.

Venus de Miami was completed in October 2017, after a Grand Tour of Europe and Hurricane Irma. It is one of the most important works in the development of Bailly’s work, as it features the reintroduction of the figure into his paintings after several years of abstraction.

John William Bailly. Venus de Miami (In studio), 2017. Oil on Canvas. 72 x 86 in / 183 x 244 cm.

30 August 2022

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