Let’s get one thing straight, nothing Beyonce, 35, does is ever by accident. The superstar meticulously plans out every photo, every lyric, and every album release — this much we know. So it’s no surprise her explosive maternity photoshoot, which was shared with the world on Feb. 2, is super symbolic and has A LOT more to it than what simply meets the eye.
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In fact, as soon as Queen Bey announced she’s pregnant with her and Jay Z‘s, 47, twins, experts meticulously began to analyze her announcement photo — and then later her other maternity shots. The first photo, which Beyonce posted on Feb. 1, is a vibrant portrait and, just like the other pics, was reportedly art directed by multimedia artist Awol Erizku. But aside from the fun colors and unique composition, the image is chockfull of both maternal and religious symbolism.
“Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement photos make a great many references to works of art, both famous and little known,” Dennis Geronimus, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History at New York University, revealed to BAZAAR.com. “Who can say if all of these references are entirely intentional, but Beyoncé and her photographer do seem to know their art history!” We’re not surprised.
That first image — the one with Beyonce crouching in front of a wall of colorful flowers with a green veil on her head — is apparently a reference to the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is a Roman Catholic title for the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The Catholic Church believes that the Virgin Mary appeared as an apparition four times to Saint Juan Diego at the Hill of Tepeyac and instructed him to bring her flowers.
“The Virgin of Guadalupe often has that blue background and greenish veil,” Jim Nikas, the Director of the Posada Art Foundation explained. “The Mexican people see her as the mother of everyone, not just the mother of God. Pretty clearly, the imagery there is a mom, who is Beyonce. You could say she’s likening herself to the mother of God, but I don’t think that’s the message so much as the joy of motherhood.” Pretty deep, huh?
Jim added that in Mexican art, female saints are often depicted with vibrant flowers surrounding them. And getting a bit technical here, many images of the Virgin of Guadalupe picture her with a delicate bow around her waist — much like the pink bows on Bey’s bra! Is your mind blown yet?
“Flowers symbolize fertility; they’re the sexual organ of the flowering plant. They’re symbolic of virginity and the Virgin. The little bow around her waist is symbolic of her virginity as well,” Jim continued. “The colors are clearly symbolic of royalty and some of the Aztec gods. It seems as though Beyonce created a lot of this imagery to appeal to a Latin American market.”
It’s not just the Virgin of Guadalupe though, in many cultures Virgin Mary statues are framed with flowers. One difference though, the Virgin is never depicted in the nude. The rest of Beyonce’s photos also have religious, maternal, and even royal undertones. In one portrait specifically, the Lemonade singer stands naked with super long hair flowing down to her waist. She stands in front of a bright yellow background and has flowers painted onto her sheer tights as she rises from a burst of foliage.
The photo unmistakably imitates Sandro Botticelli‘s celebrated Birth of Venus. And Dennis, who actually specializes in Italian Renaissance art history, pointed out that her painted legs invoke Flora, the goddess of spring, featured in another Botticelli painting called Primavera. And Beyoncé stands next to the Egyptian bust of Queen Nefertiti.
“It’s the unexpected fusions of different visual traditions and different genres, from devotional to mythological and allegorical imagery, that make the photographs especially striking,” Dennis said. “She appears as not one but many women — or, instead, maybe the universal woman and mother — at once Virgin and Venus, Flora, and Leda.” Wow, Bey! You really got us thinking with this one.
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — what do YOU think Beyonce’s unique pregnancy pics mean? Do you think everyone’s theories are just coincidences?