for this research point I looked at historical and contemporary artists whose work involves the unlying structure of the human body.
Artists have looked at the structure of the human body particularly in drawing the life model for centuries. Life drawing is commonly used as a tool to understand how the body is constructed and as an aid to understanding the proportions of the figure. I myself remember at school we drew from a complete skeleton.
very early artists also studied anatomy to gain a better understanding of the mechanics of the body. Leonardo Da Vinci ( 1452-1519) as well as being an artist was a scientist, mathematician, an inventor as well as being a superb draftsman. Da Vinci made substantial discoveries in the field of anatomy – producing sketchbooks and notebooks filled with intricate and accurate drawings of the human body. Da Vinci was practiced at dissecting the human body studying muscles and internal organs as well as the skeleton. His studies recorded every aspect of the human form offering an insight into the function of the human body.
George Stubbs ( 1724-1806) three hundred years later like Da Vinci studied anatomy. Today Stubbs is primarily remembered as the painter of horses. But aged 21 Stubbs went to York where he produced illustrations for a midwifery textbook. He also taught anatomy to medical students and like Da Vinci Stubbs also worked from cadavers dissenting and producing drawings – including studies of an unborn child in the womb.
With the advent of the digital age artists working today do not have to dissect a corpse to understand the structure of the human form nonetheless an understanding of anatomy and physiology is useful in creating work that offers a better understanding of the underlying structure of the body and helps to add a sense of form and solidity to figure studies.
korean artist Taeril Kim begins his work by reflecting ‘thinking how will I observe to re-create the figure? ‘ Kim’s figures have a solid feel to them yet somehow to me they manage to have a fluid lightness to their structure. His working process is to build up the basic shapes of the form then to add solid rectangular blocks of bright primary colours to empathise the solid feel of the form. The effect is very interesting as the softer areas of the body are loosely and fluidly constructed with the more muscular areas heavier with solid blocks of heavy colour.
polish artist Magdalena Dukiewicz work focuses on the skeletal structure of a body and body organs such as the heart. Dukiewicz does not seem concerned with depicting the entire form of the body but instead with exploring elements of it – what she terms ‘the aesthetic of the human anatomy ‘ an interesting idea. Dukiewicz’s drawings are delicate and intricate using coloured pencils or fine felt tip pens. She builds up the form in layers using tiny pencil marks – in her drawings of the human skull she demonstrates a good use of negative spaces around the form and in the empty eye sockets. I particularly like Dukiewicz beautiful drawings of an anatomically detailed human heart. Within the form she produces tiny patterns and whorl like shapes – interestingly the effect is quite beautiful and fragile not at all gory. The red blood flowing though the veins and arteries of the heart stream down the page rather like decorative ribbons or long tresses of hair! Dukiewicz also has developed some of her skull drawings into strange and fascinating skeleton masks. I am particularly struck by the lightness of her pen marks and the enthereal pure beauty of the drawings a complete contact to Da Vinci’s almost coldly clinical scientific drawings.