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Human body

'I wanted to conquer the world. But I also desperately wanted to understand human nature, and to know what was inside our bodies. To do this, I have spent whole night dissecting bodies, against the direct orders of the Pope. Nothing disgusts me. What I am looking for, truly, in all of my work and particularly in my painting, what I have looked for all my life, is to understand the mystery that is human nature' – from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century.

At the time of writing these notes, da Vinci had already made greater understanding of the human body the primary objective of his investigations. Dissection and study were key to his development of a holistic knowledge of anatomy, which da Vinci believed was vital to the perfect rendering of the nude figures which he painted and drew.

Little by little, the traditional image of the human figure was uprooted and in its place new ways of interpreting the body developed. Contemporary artists relentlessly questioned the traditional codes of figure drawing, liberally reworking the representation of the body to create a new image that was dislocated, geometric, deformed and disfigured.

The body as an artistic subject is at once desired, fantasised, dreamt, transformed, deformed. For painters, photographers and sculptors alike the body represents a rite of passage in their artistic development. Many people say that they most appreciate the talents of an artists by way of their control over the complexity of the figure. For example, it's clear even in Matisse's later, more abstract collages that he had perfectly mastered the human form.

Representation of the body is fundamental to Western art: first and foremost because it suggests a representation of the self, and therefore affirms the artist's own existence and coexistence with the environment that surrounds them. At the beginning of art history, the only bodies represented were the gods, supernatural beings, and spirits who had taken on human form. The body, nude or clothed, is at once one of the most widely depicted and most deeply polemical subjects in Western art (think of the scandals provoked by Courbet's 'Origins of the World', or Renoir's 'Picnic on the Grass').

The body has always been the primary subject of an array of themes, and its history is rich and ancient. Initially, depiction of the body was closely linked to religion, where the Word became flesh in Genesis, but later in more secular times the arousal of the artist when faced with the body made for an equally popular theme. Latterly the notion of the body as an object of beauty was subverted by Cubism until depictions of bodies no longer bore any resemblance to reality or made any pretence of respecting the rules of proportion.

Finally, in modern art the body has taken on an abstract shape within space, becoming one with the environment. In some instances, the body has become the artist's own support, as with Klein's models. The body as an abstract concept is tangible in many different manifestations in art, even in pieces as unassuming as some of Rothko's paintings. It remains the subject of inexhaustible inspiration and eternal debate.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Prints

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Marlene Dumas, Full Serie: Fog of War, Print

Marlene Dumas

Full Serie: Fog of War, 2006
18.5 x 14.2 inch


Pierre Risch, Le secret, Print

Pierre Risch

Le secret, 1943
19.7 x 26 inch


Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Etude de Fille, Print

Ernest Pignon-Ernest

Etude de Fille, 1998
10.2 x 14.2 x 0.4 inch


Bernard Frize, Extension 2, Print

Bernard Frize

Extension 2, 2013
27.6 x 19.7 inch


Ron English, African Elephant, Print

Ron English

African Elephant, 2015
34.3 x 23.8 inch


Barthélémy Toguo, Blowing Headache, Print

Barthélémy Toguo

Blowing Headache, 2017
27.6 x 33.5 inch


Henry Maurice, Untitled, Print

Henry Maurice

Untitled, 1973
19.7 x 27.6 x 0.1 inch


Emilio Greco, Nanda, Print

Emilio Greco

Nanda, 1955
22.4 x 17.7 x 0.1 inch


Alberto Mastroianni, Giraffe, Print

Alberto Mastroianni

Giraffe, 1970
27.6 x 11 x 0 inch


Claude Lévêque, Golden World, Print

Claude Lévêque

Golden World, 2018
29.5 x 41.3 inch


Claire Fontaine, Untitled (Castor 1), Print

Claire Fontaine

Untitled (Castor 1), 2013
35.4 x 47.2 inch


Riccardo Tommasi Ferroni, Corrida, Print

Riccardo Tommasi Ferroni

Corrida, 1960
19.7 x 27.6 x 0.1 inch


Leonardo Castellani, Seafood, Print

Leonardo Castellani

Seafood, 1943
27.2 x 19.3 x 0 inch


Tomislav Petranovic Rvat, Ptica, Print

Tomislav Petranovic Rvat

Ptica, 1974
25.4 x 17.7 x 0 inch


Costantino Persiani, Pope on the throne II, Print

Costantino Persiani

Pope on the throne II, 1970
37 x 28 x 0 inch


Fritz Wotruba, Abstract, Print

Fritz Wotruba

Abstract, 1971
18.5 x 24.8 x 0.1 inch


George Segal, Girl in Bright Red Shirt, Print

George Segal

Girl in Bright Red Shirt, 1976
27.8 x 39 x 0 inch


Alexander de Cadenet, Epicentre, Olympic Games Beijing, Print

Alexander de Cadenet

Epicentre, Olympic Games Beijing, 2008
27.6 x 37.2 x 0 inch


Yaya Herman Dune, Spjutmo, Print

Yaya Herman Dune

Spjutmo, 2010
22.4 x 28 x 0.4 inch


Sara Cao, Dung Beetles, Print

Sara Cao

Dung Beetles, 2013
25.6 x 19.7 inch


Antonio Dias, Navegador, Print

Antonio Dias

Navegador, 2015
41.7 x 27.6 inch


ErriC, Another Dimension, Print


Another Dimension, 2020
19.7 x 27.6 x 0.1 inch


Imbue, Counterfeit, Print


Counterfeit, 2016
3.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inch


Sumit Mehndiratta, Occupy, Print

Sumit Mehndiratta

Occupy, 2018
32.7 x 50 x 0.8 inch


Mel Ramos, Tyra Tyre, Print

Mel Ramos

Tyra Tyre, 2004
29.5 x 23 inch


Frederic Amat, Liseré bleu, Print

Frederic Amat

Liseré bleu, 1992
29.9 x 22 inch


Antonio Mora, Reminiscence, Print

Antonio Mora

Reminiscence, 2018
59.1 x 39.4 inch


Sonia Alins, Hacia el Fondo del Mar, Print

Sonia Alins

Hacia el Fondo del Mar, 2020
19.5 x 39.4 x 0.1 inch


Eskos, Eskos cash I, Print


Eskos cash I, 2019
3 x 7.1 x 0.1 inch


Jean-Louis Toutain, Sous le réverbère, Print

Jean-Louis Toutain

Sous le réverbère, 2019
22 x 15 inch


Carlos Amorales, Mariposas Negras 1, Print

Carlos Amorales

Mariposas Negras 1, 2008
44.9 x 34.6 inch


Marta Bozyk, Callas, Print

Marta Bozyk

Callas, 2017
38.6 x 37.4 inch


Our recommendations Anna Gawlikowska, On a moony night, Print

Anna Gawlikowska

On a moony night, 2018
14.4 x 14 inch


Our recommendations François Houtin, Ragolles et béruchet, Print

François Houtin

Ragolles et béruchet, 2013
8.7 x 11.4 inch


Jan Dobkowski, Pranskter, Print

Jan Dobkowski

Pranskter, 2020
11.8 x 8.7 inch


Krzysztof Skórczewski, Spring's Holiday, Print

Krzysztof Skórczewski

Spring's Holiday, 2008
9.8 x 13.4 inch


JJ Adams, Bruce Lee Tattoo, Print

JJ Adams

Bruce Lee Tattoo, 2016
28.3 x 22.8 inch


John Kacere, Composition pour les JO, Print

John Kacere

Composition pour les JO, 1992
35.4 x 23.6 inch


Marc Desgrandchamps, Roland Garros French Open, Print

Marc Desgrandchamps

Roland Garros French Open, 2016
31 x 23 inch


Simone Monney, Aqua city, Print

Simone Monney

Aqua city, 2017
27.5 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch


Artiste Chezbelette, R E C Y C L É - ZB-110919, Print

Artiste Chezbelette

R E C Y C L É - ZB-110919, 2019
47.2 x 35.4 x 0.1 inch


Jules Perahim, Alphabet 21, Print

Jules Perahim

Alphabet 21, 1974
22 x 15 x 0.4 inch


Cosmicg, Molitor, Print


Molitor, 2016
35.4 x 23.6 x 1.6 inch


Giuseppe Penone, Images de Pierres, Print

Giuseppe Penone

Images de Pierres, 1993
43.7 x 15.7 inch


Perejaume, Barcelona 80, Print


Barcelona 80, 1980
29.9 x 22 inch


Jan Hendrix, Spring Station South, Print

Jan Hendrix

Spring Station South, 2001
29.9 x 55.1 x 0.4 inch


Patrick Brossoud, Chebika I, Print

Patrick Brossoud

Chebika I, 1978
26.4 x 18.9 inch


Sergey Melnitchenko, Behind the Scenes #1, Print

Sergey Melnitchenko

Behind the Scenes #1, 2016
15.7 x 23.6 inch


Rafael Bartolozzi, Untitled, Print

Rafael Bartolozzi

Untitled, 1970
29.9 x 22 inch


Tyler James, Creating Space, Print

Tyler James

Creating Space, 2017
24 x 48 inch


Francisco Alvarez, Campesino, Print

Francisco Alvarez

Campesino, 1998
27.2 x 36.2 inch


Equipo Limite, Mas, Print

Equipo Limite

Mas, 2002
25.2 x 18.9 inch


Rita Marhaug, Horizon, Print

Rita Marhaug

Horizon, 2012
30.3 x 22 inch


Bernard Quesniaux, Sans-titre, Print

Bernard Quesniaux

Sans-titre, 2014
26 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch


Arthur Godart, Silence Please, Print

Arthur Godart

Silence Please, 2019
7.2 x 5.1 inch

$121 $241

Matteo Mauro, Air, Print

Matteo Mauro

Air, 2019
55.1 x 55.1 x 1.2 inch


Bona de Mandiargues, Sans titre, Print

Bona de Mandiargues

Sans titre, 1976
8.3 x 5.9 inch


François Lunven, Sans titre, Print

François Lunven

Sans titre, 1972
13.8 x 9.8 inch


Peter Wayne Lewis, Primal Instinct, Print

Peter Wayne Lewis

Primal Instinct, 1992
22 x 30 inch


Jean-Charles Blais, Suite Nipon pour CB, Print

Jean-Charles Blais

Suite Nipon pour CB, 1985
25.8 x 19.7 inch


Frédéric Clavère, Sans titre, Print

Frédéric Clavère

Sans titre, 2013
27.6 x 19.7 inch


lou GUS, Jade - Reproduction digigraphie, Print

lou GUS

Jade - Reproduction digigraphie, 2021
27.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch

$271 $301

Michel Fingesten, Ex Libris Mantero, Print

Michel Fingesten

Ex Libris Mantero, 1930
4.9 x 6.1 x 0 inch


Carlo Marcantonio, Nude - 2, Print

Carlo Marcantonio

Nude - 2, 1970
31.1 x 19.7 x 0 inch


60 Artworks on 660

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