There is almost no limit to the way the human form has been interpreted by artists through time.
Our bodies are our first and most essential expressive medium. Think of the incredibly varied experiences our bodies undergo in a day. We stretch, dig, run for the bus, hug, dance, yawn, click on an app or button a shirt, consume food – and those are only the ordinary, everyday activities human bodies can manage. Some people also scuba dive, run marathons, play the drums or the piano, walk the tightrope, breakdance, or lift weights.
Bodies can be tattooed, painted, scarified, pierced or surgically sculpted, in order to manifest our personalities, conform to cultural and societal rules, or to follow fashions.
Artists frequently explore questions of identity through the body: how we fit into our families, communities, cultures, and the world at large. They also look for challenging ways in which we express our uniqueness, and sometimes our culture.
In this chapter we will look at a few examples of artists’ interpretations of the human body and what it does, and create some interpretations of our own.