Pandora, the first woman on Earth, was created in an act of vengeance. Zeus, the king of the sky and the gods, was angry with the Titan Prometheus for creating man in the image of the gods and providing them with fire that he stole from heaven. Zeus ordered the god Hephaestus to create Pandora to exact revenge on Prometheus. Pandora was placed into an idyllic version of Earth, and Zeus gave her a box that he told her never to open. Pandora couldn’t resist the temptation and opened the box, releasing a score of plagues into the world, like disease, old age, and death.
was fascinated by women from classical mythology, and he painted Pandora several times. In a painting from ca. 1914, Pandora appears nude and surrounded by scores of bright flowers, yet she is intently focused on the small box in her hands. Redon painted the work in the years leading up to World War I, potentially drawing a parallel between the horrors inflicted by the opening of her box and those of the war. Pandora’s influence reaches into contemporary art as well; Filipino artist
, for example, created Cosmic Pandora Micro-Box
(2010) by collecting objects he found during a residency in Brazil, like socks, a bar of soap, and oyster shells. By linking ordinary objects and mythology, he questions how pedestrian items can be as impactful as the divine contents of Pandora’s box.