Art and the Body

What is the first subject an artist chooses to photograph, sculpt, draw or paint? 

More often than not it will be the subject closest to their heart - the human body. 

Throughout history, artists have used the body as a way to flex their creative muscles. Over the centuries, their interpretations have inspired some of the most important works.

In 1490, Leonardo da Vinci drew the Vitruvian Man, depicting the ideal proportions of a man’s body and how this relates to geometry. It was one of the seminal pieces of the Italian renaissance, a moment where art met science. 

Fast forward to the 20th century and artists like Picasso and Egon Schiele found radical ways to portray the body, reinventing the nude in ways that defined new genres of art, pushing the boundaries.

Through art, the body became a site for defining individual identity, constructing sex and gender ideals and experimenting with the nature of representation itself. 

Photography also had its exponents of a new kind of nude. André Kertész, the ground breaking Hungarian photographer, created his ‘Distortions’ body of work in 1933 and defined a radical new way of imagining the nude. This commission of 200 images was a combination of Modernism and surrealism but however you look at them, they are remarkable.

This great tradition is continued by contemporary photographers like Silvia Grav. Her extraordinary image manipulations redefine the way we look at the female form. She creates a surreal world that takes conceptual photography to (another) new place. 

Paul Evans, Quintessential25