Tanya Ashken


Aphrodite by Tanya Ashken

Artwork Detail

Inspiration for Tanya Ashken’s graceful curved Aphrodite, 1967, came from observing Physical Education students exercising and stretching at the University of Otago. Ashken was living in Dunedin as the Frances Hodgkins Fellow and it was there that she befriended Professor Philip Smithells who let Ashken attend his Physical Education classes. There, she observed and participated in movement classes and she was especially drawn to the elongated and arched poses of the students. Ashken elaborated on her thinking behind the work, ‘I had pieces of Carrara marble and produced Aphrodite. I started to create a female form, and then on stroking it I discovered it was male. Subconsciously it had evolved into a hermaphrodite.’ Aphrodite, then, is a more complex and fluid vision of gender. While the title references the Greek goddess and her associations with love, beauty, pleasure, passion, and procreation, Ashken’s sensuous biomorphic form complicates a straight reading of gender.

Tanya Ashken
Production date
Carrara marble
755 x 260 x 220 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2020
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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