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The Body in Art- Explored Through Classical and Modern Traditions

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The Body in Art- Explored Through Classical and Modern Traditions
Artists have idealized, humanized, and celebrated the naked and nude human form over the centuries. From painting to sculpture, body art to performance art, the body has assumed a prominent role in the creative expression of nearly all cultures from the beginning of civilization. As a result, the human form is one of the most common subjects in art. Through art, the body becomes a site for defining individual identity, constructing sex and gender ideals, negotiating power, and experimenting with the nature of representation itself. The body is not always portrayed as it actually looks, and it may even be altered so much that it does not resemble a real human body at all. As stated by the authors of Gateways to Art, the reality of the body can be distorted to suggest great beauty, or to emphasize a myriad of qualities like power, status, wisdom, and even god-like perfection (DeWitte 554). Because there are so many ways the body can be depicted in art, it is important to understand the various motivations behind the creation of different styles. It's important to consider the tradition of the flawless classical god and goddess in painting and sculpture and how modern artists like Manet, Degas, Matisse and Picasso transgressed the established classical approach of depicting the human figure. The human body is essential to myth and storytelling, as it is the first reference point, the original source of sensation and apprehension that gives rise to all questions and all attempts to answer them. Certain popular and deep-seated metaphors and symbols — images used for understanding and expressing human beliefs and situations, such as Achilles' heel and Adam's rib — are taken from myths associated with the body. It’s important to discuss the “ideal proportions” exemplified through the art of various...

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