'The Botox Botticellis': Disturbing portraits of extreme plastic surgery patients
A new book featuring portraits of surgically enhanced models aims to challenge what we consider to be aesthetically pleasing.
Phillip Toledano's A New Kind Of Beauty asks whether human faces and bodies redesigned using extensive surgery could ever be considered a paragon of beauty.
The New York-based artist, whose
photographs have appeared in the New York Times, GQ and Esquire, says
his objective was to challenge what we see as beautiful, questioning
whether one can redefine what we see as beautiful – and wondering
whether we can choose to create beauty ourselves.
Under the knife: The striking series of portraits features models who have undergone significant plastic surgery, including facial modification, implants, lifts, collagen injections
The coffee table tome features semi-nude and nude works of men and women who have cosmetically enhanced their faces and bodies.
The subjects in the book have undergone a
combination of procedures, including lip augmentation, rhinoplasty
(nose reshaping), breast augmentation or pec implants, blepharoplasty
(eyelid lift or modification) and body resculpting.
Shot in the traditional chiaroscuro
style, the contrasting light and dark tones only serve to further
enhance the modifications the models – dubbed The Botox Botticellis – have undergone in the pursuit of
physical perfection, or in an attempt to turn back time.
Some may find the portraits haunting,
despite Toledano's attempt to recreate the sense of a classical
portrait. For his part, Toledano says there's something 'transcendant' in their classical poses, and their 'determined' faces, though he too stops short of deeming them beautiful.
Homogenous: The features of the surgery patients begin to resemble one another, creating a paradigm of sorts
'Beauty has always been a currency,
and now that we finally have the technological means to mint our own,
what choices do we make' Toledano asks in the introduction to the book.
'Is beauty informed by contemporary
culture /03/06/article-0-120A8800000005DC-937_306x450.jpg” width=”306″ height=”450″ alt=”Challenging: These photos may seem extreme to many, but according to Toledano, there's something 'transcendent in their classical poses lit in gorgeous chiaroscuro and their determined faces'” class=”blkBorder” />
Challenging: These photos may seem extreme to many, but according to Toledano, there's something 'transcendent in their classical poses lit in gorgeous chiaroscuro and their determined faces'
Certainly, whether one perceives the
portraits as beautiful or not, one thing the book does reveal is the
homogenising effect of multiple cosmetic procedures.
Those who have had many operations
done begin to resemble one another, their surgery-sculpted, narrowed noses and
plumped-up lips taking on similar form.
Their individuality is lost. In
attempting to distance themselves from their natural appearances, they
become uniform somehow, leading to an uncanny situation where a
paradigm is created, albeit artificially, which may be considered beautiful by those who embrace and pursue this look.
In theory, for these subjects, this
paradigm becomes the norm. Ultimately then, wider exposure to this paradigm may
create a familiarity that breeds acceptance.
In time, such familiarity could enable
the casual beholder to accept the cosmetically enhanced face as having
the potential to be beautiful, rather than rejecting it out of hand as
In reality though, the majority of us may feel such a notion is a long way off.
Transcending the self: With the portraits, Toledano wonders whether when we re-make ourselves, are we revealing our true character, or are we stripping away our very identity
A new kind of beauty The photographer suggests that with such extreme surgery, his subjects could be creating a new version of what is considered to be aesthetically pleasing