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Human Form Through The History Of Art

Spanning across centuries of art movements, the real human form has been depicted and developed in various ways. It can be seen that it has been illustrated corresponding to specific ideologies of a time. Also, quite a significant point is looking before at the human being form and the massive amount times that painters choose to depict it and exactly how they have rendered it. One can check out two periods, days gone by -'where have we been?' and today's - 'where are we have now?' in line with the social, ideology and time influences on form. In this article I firstly viewed how the human body has been portrayed, and secondly, the medium found in which to provide the painting/ sculpture.

Egyptian artists coated in a very simple, 2D manner, only using a set amount of shades to depict their form of a human being. All their appendages, such as hands and feet, are portrayed as smooth and front on. Their eye also look like a frontal view rather than the conventional side on view of the attention when looking at the facial skin from the side angle. (Figure 1) These images are perfect types of an art that has been inspired by culture and ideology. The Egyptians resided relatively simple lives yet they were a very detail driven race, including the pyramids. This is reflected in their artwork. Barry Kemp extensively researched the Egyptian ideologies and culture. In his publication called Old Egypt: Anatomy of an Civilisation, he argues that ideologies have grown to be one of the "shaping operations of the present day times". Kemp mentioned that it might be appropriate to make use of the word 'ideology' when referring to the Egyptians' eyesight and use of "symbolic terms" in their artwork. The Egyptians thought that it was of central importance to keep carefully the "reflection of the divine order" of their lives. (Kemp, 2006: 61) The usage of simplistic form and symbols depict their idea of a true representation of your human's form and lifestyle at that time.


The Greeks worked well in a number of styles and mediums. From sculpture, to painting, to prints as seen below (Fig 2 & 3) a similar thread runs through of the Greek ideology. The look of them is analogous however you like to Egyptian skill. Both representing 2D forms with very simple, reserved use of color and no 3D qualities whatsoever. These two examples represent best facets to the violent Greek lifestyle of warfare and quarrel forever ending in gruesome loss of life.

Although when researching Greek artwork, it is impossible not to discuss sculpture. The Greeks were known because of their sculpture and architecture. The central subject matter in Greek skill is the individual form and it is displayed in lots of ways. Static sculpture, such as the example below (Fig 4) (Home Institution, n. d. ) symbolizes the very early on form of Greek sculpture. There is no movements in the artwork what so ever before; the sole difference / variety is the actual fact that the one leg is submit.

The Greek lifestyle and ideologies at this point in history was essential in the exploration of the individual form. The sculptors started to differentiate their functions by adding consistency and movements.

Or Mobile Sculptures:

The Greeks thought in resolving issues with violence, as mentioned above. Therefore this was an ideology of their time. Their art work - no subject how static it came out - always carried connotations of viciousness and love. This particular sculpture (Fig 5) is a demonstration of pure durability and domination of the male form in the Greek ideology. Every muscle is emphasized and their facial expressions tell a story of their own.


In the Baroque movements there is a complete change from what has already been looked at. Art work had advanced into more realistic renderings and the majority of work was completed in car paint.

The term 'Baroque' has the original meaning of 'unusual, contorted, grotesque' (Janson, 1982: 483). Which when speaking about the movement all together, is a generally out-dated explanation. The 'new style' actually originated in Rome through the late 1500's.

In Rubens' painting, The Union of Globe and Water (Fig 6), it is obvious that lots of, many time of painting were devote to create this work. The varieties have a tender, gentle form. The female's systems in this age were always explained in the paintings as full and plump but not over-weight in any sense. In more modern terms their body would be considered to be shapely. THE PERFECT woman/ physical form in this age - in terms of the ideology of form - was viewed as more 'loving' in observation. It was not viewed as in the newer times of a slender, fit looking girl - ideologies of the 'perfect' girl of our time - this is one way their 'perfect' woman appeared.

The standard way of portraying a human body with the face forward or even to the medial side was challenged and explored by placing a form with his back again to the observer. This may indicate deeper connotations of social changes or criteria. With the male being the one to carefully turn away, it could indicate his assurance in his own authority.


Known among the first movements to maintain the 'Modern World' of general art activities, Neo-Classicism brought forth new sizes of the portrayal of the human body. Similarly to Baroque, the characters were rendered mainly in paint, with a more practical emphasis. However there may be one apparent change in the individual form when moving onto the Neo-Classicism era. It is apparent that the proper execution has been revised more in terms of muscle form and the actual realistic shape of the body. For example, the men posed in the painting have very muscular physiques and are standing up in a very blatant, upright position; which differs greatly to the style where the music artists portrayed their varieties in the previous movement. Every muscle is defined and emphasized; every percentage is correct; nothing is taken off the structure and their varieties are depicted in an exceedingly natural manner. Looking also at the women in the background, it is visible too that their shape and form is much more enhanced and computed. This movements is referred to as "a new revival of classical antiquity" (or early) (Janson, 1982: 557).

This movement spanned over a near century in length. A good example to demonstrate this motion is David's painting, "The Oath of Horatti". (Fig 7)

Impressionism is another period towards today's. The term 'Impression' means (in painting) to make a mark with paint to give the idea (impression) of something. It does not imply that the observer can easily see the exact subject - it is a suggestion using color through feelings.

In the situation of the artwork below (Fig, lighter shades of the same color are almost dotted to the canvas to provide the effect of dappled tone. The impression of tone is evident.

Scenes from 'the world of entertainment' (Janson, 1982: 608) such as dancing halls, part caf's, concerts and the theater were the key subject choice of the impressionist painters.

To take a look at among form and its depiction in this movements, "The Tub" by the impressionist designer, Degas (Fig 10), is a great instance. A female is bathing in a rounded bath tub. As the topic in the painting, her body utilizes the majority of the space.

The brush strokes are very tough and quick, in a manner that just by taking a look at the image they are clearly seen. This in turn triggers a 'hazy', or out of focus effect to the painting. Even through this however, the observer can plainly see her form. Her shoulder bone is specific causing a line of shadow on her behalf backside. Her ribs can too be observed from the way that she is bent over - they are often exposed under a person's pores and skin. The harshness of the brush strokes in ways emphasizes her form. The use of light and dark (chiaroscuro) has the same effect.

Although, in comparison with David's "Oath of Horatti" (Fig 7), there is a great difference in the way where the artist decorated. The Neo-Classicist work expresses static classification, while in "The Tub" (Fig 10) more of the feeling of the sentiment of the painter (and subject) are conveyed - through the abrasive brushstrokes and coloring use.

Moving on from paintings and daily habit sculptures comes the reasonably broad activity of Modernism/ 20th Century painting and sculpture. You will find thousands of examples of a modernistic artwork. It's been debated if this was a turning point in how and what performers considered art. Research in this issue shows an absolute turning point in one designers' work. Anthony Gormley is his name. The image below is of 1 of his most well-known works, a individual lying on the ground in the foetal position on his/her back again. Built in small, rectangular, steel blocks put together so as to 'take on' / imply the individuals form. In a way the figure appears almost lost and out of place, on what appears like a sidewalk.

The exciting fete about Gormley's work is the fact that even though it is highly unrealistic, it is too flawlessly realistic at exactly the same time - for the reason that you can see all the essential details of individuals form. This of course refers to a far more simplistic way of the interpretation of your body, which in turn could speak about how precisely the proper execution was recognized and/or loved in this time around.

At this level the depiction of the human being form was already moving at a steady pace towards unrealistic simpleness. The movement of Cubism implemented soon after Modernism and materials used, in fact, completely differed compared to that of most modernistic works. Picasso, being one of the very most famous artists of most record for his cubist works, painted the individual form countless times. This specific painting of his is a picture-perfect example of a cubist artwork. The girl is barely with the capacity of being seen properly. The true form in this case as in most artworks of this activity has been lost and only form (2D) is left behind. The completely angular making of the undeveloped body again hints towards the utilization of increasingly more ease and basic form in artworks.

Most of Picasso's cubist works were coated around 1908 - 1910 (Janson, 1982). This was therefore a few brief years before World Warfare 1 commenced in the summer of 1914 (Janson, 1982).

If one talks about the history, there is much anxiety and sociable upheaval evident. This was a turning point that transformed artist's views and thoughts - which only persisted changing due to World Warfare 2.

Lastly, the final movement being discussed is the Pop Fine art movement.

A lot of Pop Art work items were done by the method of silk-screening. This places layers of different coloring onto the webpage to secure a bright, cartoon-like image. Nowadays you can view them in almost all comic whitening strips for example. It really is clear that the real human form appears completely two dimensional in most of that time period (Fig 14). In (Fig 13) however a unusual occasion of tonal value is apparent. The proper execution also only appears by itself, with no detailed background, concentrating every one of the observer's attention on the subject.

Subsequently, the depiction of the human body has developed and changed. This was because of the ever changing affect of specific ideologies current in each and every time period. By looking through all the actions mentioned above, there is evidence to state that even though there has been development - artworks have ended up back again to their original status. There has been a loop of progress, yet we still arrive at the same finish. In early times before Christ, artworks and sculpture contains only necessary form. Now, in the present day, you have the same final result.

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