Exploring Art:A Global,Thematic Approach
Mind and Body
Depicting the Body
– Portraiture should portray a persons looks and
– Nefertiti – Illustrates culturally-based aesthetic
rules about art
• Artists reveal as much of themselves as
they do their subjects when painting
• How does portraiture reveal the individual?
• What do depictions of the body indicate
more broadly about human nature?
• How is the human body used in art, both as
material and as tool?
Nefertiti, Egypt, c. 1350 BCE. Portrait
bust, approximately 1’8” high.
Aegyptisches Museum, Staatliche
Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
The Egyptian Armana canon, begun by
Amenhotep III, was a new aesthetic
which rejected the rigid, abstract style
of the past for a more flowing, elegant,
SHIMOMURA Kanzan, Study for the
Portrait of Okakura Tenshin, Japan, 1922
Japanese-style contour lines and flat
shapes are apparent here, especially in
Okakura’s left hand and sleeve. But the
face and hat are rendered with Western
Many late 19th
c. European artists were
strongly influenced by Japanese prints and
Face rendered in traditional Japanese style
Portrait of Dr. Gachet, 1890 by The Artist Vincent van Gogh.
was a French doctor who treated
Vincent van Gogh’s mental
illness during the last weeks of
van Gogh’s life.
Gachet was an artist and great
supporter of the Impressionist
He was recommended to
Vincent’s brother Theo by
Pissarro, a contemporary
This portrait reveal as much
about the artist as it does the
subject. It is seen as a
commentary on the suffering
inherent in modern, urban life.
Chuck Close, Fanny (Fingerpainting), 1985 (120x84”)
Scale conveys the importance in his portraits.
NANCY BURSON. Untitled image from Faces. Silver gelatin print,
15" x 15". USA, 1992.
• Her photographs
of unusual faces
aspects of the
the boy on the left
poses, the other
Leigh Bowery posing for Lucian Freud with the painting ‘Leigh under the Skylight’,
The flamboyant performance artist Leigh
Bowery (1961-1994) was a favorite model
of Freud. He first saw Bowery perform at
the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London,
when he appeared in a variety of colorful
and dramatic outfits. The artist became
fascinated by this strange figure - the
shape of his body, tone of his skin and his
monumental presence. Freud prefers to
know his models well in order to portray
them most effectively. He made several
paintings of Bowery over a period of four
years, during which time they became
friends. It was a relationship of mutual
inspiration, as Freud considered his model
to be ‘perfectly beautiful’ and Bowery loved
to pose for Freud. He explained that,
‘because he is an artist who always works
in the figurative idiom he has given me lots
Bill Viola, Dolorosa 2000
video diptych on two freestanding hinged LCD flat panels
– Record “inner” and “outer” being (human
face and human soul) as in the self-portaits
of Rembrandt and Frida Kahlo
– Record “types” as in the work of Cindy
Sherman and Mariko Mori
Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1669
Rembrandt studied himself in a
country where both religion
and the state promoted
FRIDA KAHLO. Self-Portrait with Monkey, Mexico, 1938. Oil on Masonite, 16” X 12”.
Her face stays almost the same in all her paintings: distinctive, unemotional , and with an
unblinking gaze that looks back. She surrounds herself with signs and images of the
different factors that shaped her live, such as her ancestry, her physical body, her nearly
fatal accident and chronic pain.
CINDY SHERMAN. Untitled Film Still #35, USA, 1979.
Gelatin Silver Print, 8” X 10”
Sherman explores socially prescribed roles
Mariko Mori. Star Doll. 1998
(Edition for Parkett 54, 1998–99)
Multiple of doll, 10 1/4 x 3 1/8" x 1 9/16"
Mori, a multimedia artist who has
worked in photography, video, and
performance art, and as a former
fashion designer and model, here takes
her playful imagery to a new level of
literalness. She bases this piece on her
earlier life-size 3-D photographic
image, which is accompanied by an
audio CD. In both, she presents herself
as a computer-fabricated pop star and
explores the hybrid nature of individual
identity and its relation to private
fantasies and global culture.
The Physical Body
• According to Protagoras, “man is the
measure of all things”.
– Less than perfect humanity
– Sickness and death
Yakshi (detail of East Gate, Great
Stupa). Sandstone, approximately 5'
high. Sanchi, India, early Andhra
period, first century BCE.
Yakshi is a nature spirit who
represents fertility:; her breasts are
exaggerated to emphasize her
powers—her touch caused trees to
POLYKLEITOS, DORYPHOROS (SPEAR-
BEARER) c.450 BCE
This sculpture reflects the Ancient Greek
deep appreciation of the human body
The body is idealized in a number of ways:
balanced pose (contrapposto)
restrained emotions (stoicism)
role depicted (youth, athlete,
Baule Male Figurec.19th c.
In most Aftican sculptue, the
front view of the human figure is
In some African traditions, the
head and neck are considered
the most important parts of the
body, an thus were apportioned
one-third the height of the entire
LESS THAN PERFECT
LAOOON AND HIS SONS, Greece, late 2nd
c. BCE, Hellenistic
GISLEBERTUS. The Last Judgment, France. C. 1130. Stone carving, 21’
wide, 12’ high. West tympanum of the Church of St.-Lazare, Autun,
Medieval Christians felt the soul was more important than the body.
Gislebertus, Last Judgment
(from Saint-Lazzare) Autun, France ca 1120-1135
This scene depicts the Judgment in
progress, announced by four trumpet-
Once again, Christ sits enthroned in the
center of the tympanum in a mandorla that
angels support. He presides over the
separation of the Blessed from the
On the left, when facing the tympanum, an
obliging angel boosts one of the Blessed
into the heavenly city. Below, the souls of
the dead are lined up to await their fate.
On the left end of the lintel, two men carry
bags with a cross and shell, symbolic of the
pilgrims to Jerusalem and Santiago de
Compostela. Those who had made the
difficult journey would be judged favorably.
To thier right of the two men are three small
figures begging to an angel to intercede on
their behalf. The angel responds by
pointing to the Judge above.
To Christ’s left, are all those condemned to Hell. One poor soul
is plucked from the earth by giant hands.
Angels and devils contest at the scales, each trying to
manipulate the balance for or against a soul.
•Angels blow the horns
announcing the Day of
•Christ is supposed to look as
if he is sitting! But it seems
that the sculptor had a hard
time figuring out how to
knees. He is static and still,
removed from the activity
•Two men at the lower left
carry staffs and bags,
identifying them as pilgrims.
The Archangel Michael
oversees the scales.
Tympanum, St. Lazare
•The weighing of
souls of the dead
who are lifted from
the earth and fought
over by angels and
•Notice that the
demon tries to tip the
scales (compare to
The Miller in
• The condemned are
dragged into hell
while those waiting
seek protection from
A poor soul
up to judgment.
The inscription reads, “Here let fear strike those whom
earthly error binds, for their fate is shown by the horror of
these figures” The poor souls are agitated and distorted,
nothing classical in their figures at all. The figures are
contorted to fit the setting but also for expressive purposes.
Souls Waiting for Judgment
Michelangelo, David, c.1501(17’)
Just What is it That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, 1956
Aestheticized body ideals of the late 20th
—buff, muscular man with amazing sexual prowess.
Body as the subject of
Muybridge’s instantaneous photographs of Occident
Limits of the Self
Tomika Te Mutu of Coromandel. Maori
chief. New Zealand, nineteenth
Ritual tattooing was often used on
the eastern islands of the South
Pacific as part of initiation rites that
prepared an individual for adulthood.
Tattoos were seen as an extra
protective shell and a new ritual skin
—effective in war, as it distracted
and confused opponents.
Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913
Boccioni dissolves the
conventional belief that the skin
layer defines the body’s outer
edge. To him the body is a mass of
wave energy defined by its
movement through a fluid atmo-
Futurism celebrated violence,
speed, energy, motion, force, and
change, which reflected his
Psychological dimension in art
Munch, Scream, 1893
Body affected by internal forces.
Distortion is a vehicle for
expressing inner terror, anxieties,
abandoned to give form to internal
Freud influenced Munch and other
Mark RothkoGreen, Red, Blue,
1955.Oil on canvas.
Rothko uses abstraction to
address broad and fundamental
feelings and ideas, because
figurative or narrative imagery
was too specific and too
Rothko’s abstractions are meant
to provide a kind of direct
physical experience to the
The Body as Art Material
– The body as art material
• the body painted or sculpted to become more
• using art to comment on dieting
• performance and body art
– The body as an art tool
• The human body is the oldest artmaking tool
Head from the Tomb of the Temple of
Inscriptions. Stucco, 17”. Maya. Palenque,
Chiapas, Mexico, mid–late seventh
In Mayan culture a flat, sloping forehead
was beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.
They bound and compressed imfants’
heads to deform the shape as they were
Hair was bluntly cut at different levels and
woven with jade ornaments.
The resulting human head was a living
Ngere Girl Prepared for a Festival.
Body painting. Africa, late twentieth
Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life/Silhouette), #294
Yoko Ono. Cut Pieces, Japan/USA, 1964
Body as an Art Tool
Jackson Pollock in his studio, 1950
• How do images of the body in popular culture, as in movies,
television, and magazines, affect how we see our own bodies?
Does art reflect society’s concept of the ideal body or does it
actively shape that concept?
• Can we separate our bodies from our sense of selfhood? Are
our bodies merely “vessels” that contain “souls” independent
• Can art that depicts deformed or mutilated bodies be