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Meet The Woman Behind Mythology In Art

The social media account where art history meets myth

Meet The Woman Behind Mythology In Art - illustration 1

A portrait of Anna

The Instagram account @mythology_in_art has a growing and loyal audience. Breaking down mythical tales you may or may not know, the woman behind the account, Anna, wants to guide you through these histories. By pairing art with myth, Anna takes her audience on a visual journey of monsters, heroes and gods. The Artsper team talked to Anna to uncover her artistic and mythical inspirations...

1. Hello Anna! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and about how you started using your Instagram account @mythology_in_art?

I'm a person who always researches something and has plenty of interests and passions. Some of them go as far as my Instagram page went. Being a professional analyst, I used to deal with information and data. After many hours of work, I wanted to give my eyes a break from long reads, numbers and diagrams. Instead, I saturated them with aesthetics. I found myself collecting an archive of art pieces that inspire me most and I realized that almost all of them are mythological. I cannot find any certain reason why I started to publish it. I felt like I shouldn't hide the amazing and rare pieces that I'd come across. The art had been created to be seen.

2. What's your relationship with mythology? Was it something you discovered early on or was it later in life?

As a child, I was more fascinated by medieval fairytales. But as a teenager, I met a strange creature while sleeping. In my dream I was alone in my grandparents' old village house. At the window I saw him coming to me - a half-man, half animal. He had a goat's face, horns, a man's torso and legs, hooves, and perhaps a tail. He walked slowly looking right into my eyes. I was scared of him and thought of the locks that my grandparents never closed. I managed to lock the house's door when the visitor was already on the porch. My heart was beating so wildly that I woke up. Although I was not ready to meet him face to face then, I became curious to know him.

My path has taken me far from the place where I was born and grew up. I got an education in the field of international relations and trade, then for years I was engaged in work and research in these fields, visiting many places and countries. I was still very far from mythology when I saw in the museum Cupid and Psyche, the sculpture composition by Antonio Canova. It seemed to awaken some kind of new power inside me. Afterwards, I read the myth in the book of Apuleius and felt that I was remembering something deeply forgotten, something that I had known for a long time. The myth had the atmosphere of my old dream.

Now I believe it was Pan who came to me - an archetypal personage from the ocean of the collective unconscious, the personification of the wild in us. He guided me to discover human nature, and myself. Psyche met Pan when she lost her romantic love. In my personal life I saw many parallels with that myth. So, I went deep in jungles of self-knowledge, or self-remembering, through mythological archetypes.

Meet The Woman Behind Mythology In Art - illustration 1
Meet The Woman Behind Mythology In Art - illustration 1

Left: A portrait of Anna, Right: Renat Berkutsia, Pearls of Aphrodite, 2021

3. What's your favorite mythological painting? Do you have any particular preferences when it comes to art movements?

My favorites change depending on my inner state, I guess. Today I love Waterhouse's painting Ulysses and the Sirens. The hero is passing through another challenge on the way home – singing Sirens, creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting voices to suicide in deadly waters. While his crew plugs their ears, the curious Odysseus cannot deny himself the pleasure of knowing the mystery of the sirens' voices. He ordered his crew to tie him to the mast - a cunning trick to prevent himself from jumping overboard the ship. I don't know what touches me more - the episode itself, or the work of the artist, but I become hypnotized for some time. Or maybe it reminds me of myself when I listen to the TV news of recent months…

In regards to movements, the art of Etruscans, Renaissance, Pre-Raphaelites, and Symbolism affects me more than the others. Possibly because of my childhood love for mystic, medieval romance, and my tendency to look for hidden signs.

4. Why, in your opinion, do you think mythology has been such a prevalent subject for artists in art history?

Perhaps because of its versatility. If history, religion, and personal experiences are related to individuals or communities, then mythology is the heritage of mankind. No one knows for sure where myths came from nor what they mean. We only know that they are ancient knowledge. Of course, myths in many ways acquire the features and details of the civilization that spreads them, and this grants great importance for culture.

For me mythology is still an unsolved enigma. In the artworks depicting any mythic episode or personage, I see the cultural code that artists read in the collective field and express it visually. Once I participated in the process of creating the mythological painting of contemporary artist Renat Berkutsia. Depicting a nymph, a servant of the Goddess Aphrodite, I was lucky to observe this sacrament.

5. What's your process in choosing specific artworks for your posts?

Revealing any mythological theme in art, I strive to show how much it is represented from antiquity to our times, as fully as possible. I want to show the entire range to create a complete reflection of the plot, almost regardless of my personal sympathies. It is an attempt to understand how the attitude around certain topics raised in mythology has changed over centuries.

Meet The Woman Behind Mythology In Art - illustration 1
Meet The Woman Behind Mythology In Art - illustration 1

Left: John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, Right: A portrait of Anna

6. How do you feel using modern tools such as social media to spread ancient tales?

As if I manage a small window to the big world - of eternal ideas, heroes and images. I can only give an interesting direction for further exploring. Perhaps it is a bit difficult to compete for the attention of a very wide digital audience. It is necessary to comply with the algorithms of the platform, to stay afloat. The support and feedback from my audience helps me a lot - when my subscribers make references to my page, they help me grow. This is how my page gained momentum and I hope to continue.

7. Lastly, how is mythology relevant today? Why is it important to still share these stories and learn about them?

Mythology shows what it means to be human. It traces the emergence of the most important human taboos. Mythology is the common basis between people of different times and civilizations. Something that could oppose the principle of divide et impera. 

It seems like we live in an era of change. What are we going to face? Are we ready for it? Will traditional institutions and values be saved? Being in touch with archetypes is like having very deep roots that will help you to stand in global or personal turbulence. The source of wisdom to distinguish truth from distortion.

The scientific version considers myths as an attempt of ancient people to explain the world around them in the absence of scientific tools. It may seem that as the natural sciences develop, the territory of mythology contracts. But I feel that the true field of mythology is inside us. Mythology is some kind of algebra of human relationships. If we consider mythological stories as a complex of interrelated occasions, one can see both the logic and the cause-and-effect relationship between everything that happens there. I share mythology to give someone an opportunity to remember something important, just like me once. And perhaps to find the key to his own mystery. 

Their favourite artworks

Christophe Charbonnel, Athéna, Sculpture

Christophe Charbonnel

Athéna, 2015
86.2 x 31.5 x 22 inch


Jean-Robert Franco, Nymphe en herbe, de dos, Photography

Jean-Robert Franco

Nymphe en herbe, de dos, 1979
27.6 x 19.7 inch


Valeri Tsenov, The green goddess, Painting

Valeri Tsenov

The green goddess, 2018
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.8 inch


Eric Chambon, Face de minotaure, Sculpture

Eric Chambon

Face de minotaure, 2010
7.9 x 11.8 x 3.1 inch


Salvador Dali, The mythology - Argus (Le paon), Print

Salvador Dali

The mythology - Argus (Le paon), 1963
22 x 28.3 inch


Marco Stefanucci, Eros, Painting

Marco Stefanucci

Eros, 2017
16.5 x 13.2 x 0.8 inch


Annalaura Pretaroli, Ethereal Flora, UK, Photography

Annalaura Pretaroli

Ethereal Flora, UK, 2021
11 x 7.4 inch


Stephen and Lorna Kirin, 'Blue Sphinx' after Leonardo, Painting

Stephen and Lorna Kirin

'Blue Sphinx' after Leonardo, 2021
11.8 x 9.8 x 0 inch


Cajuca, Moon Valley, Print


Moon Valley, 2019
16.5 x 11.7 x 0.1 inch


Jérôme Sorolla, Covid, Sculpture

Jérôme Sorolla

Covid, 2021
70.9 x 19.7 x 19.7 inch


Valentin Pavageau, Oracle, Print

Valentin Pavageau

Oracle, 2020
19.7 x 19.7 x 0 inch


Georges Saulterre, Séléné N°37, Sculpture

Georges Saulterre

Séléné N°37, 1973
17.7 x 17.7 x 0.1 inch