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Beauty and conflict in the beholder. Photographs by Philip Toledano.

Photo credits: Philip Toledano.

If we look at the paintings by Peter Paul Rubens of naked women, and we can take our minds off the sheer artistry in the craft, it is clear that perceptions of beauty change over time. The glorious and famously ample ladies painted by Rubens in the 17th century, might today be considered too fat, perhaps even unhealthy!

A New Kind of Beauty is a series of portraits by Philip Toledano that are taken in a classical style. The series looks at people who have sought medical intervention, for cosmetic reasons, in their search for their own notions of modern beauty.

Largely stripped of clothes, with pale make-up and jewellery, the photographs have a harshness to them. There is something distinctly unnatural about the faces and bodies presented, almost repellent. Yet, each of the people can be said to be “attractive”.

The extremity of the intervention is at once repelling and yet compelling. It is as if the surgeon’s knife has cut a fissure between what we instinctively feel to be beautiful and what we see as beauty.

The Three Graces. 1639 by Peter Paul Rubens.

See more works by Rubens.

Gratitude to Beautiful Decay.

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