Body of Art

Edited by Diane Fortenberry and Rebecca Merrill. Phaidon, $59.95 (440p) ISBN 978-0-7148-6966-7
This massive, sprawling treasure trove spans the entire history of the human form recorded in the visual arts. The book is organized by theme, each bringing to light a different aspect (and purpose) of the representation of the body in art. A section on "Beauty," for example, illustrates how rooted Western art is in the "ideals of attractiveness in Classical antiquity," while "Emotion Embodied" beautifully and effectively illuminates that the "body is a canvas on and through which artists have examined what it means to be human." Sections on identity, power, religion, sex and gender, the body's limits, bodies and space, the abject body, and the absent body present a fully-rounded chart of human emotional context amplified in (and by) art. The hundreds of works include the pendulum-breasted Venus of Willendorf sculpture, molded out of clay 25,000 years ago; 19th-century painter Thomas Eakins's "The Wrestlers," a homoerotic depiction of virile male wrestlers; and contemporary photographer Sally Mann's photographs of her daughter. Some of these defined traditions for centuries and others turned those same traditions on their heads. Illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 10/01/2015
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