Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Human Figure in Art

Man's greatest subject in Art, perhaps, is Himself. The human figure is infinitely interesting and presents a compelling image with its flesh, muscles, contours, curves and angles. Strained or natural, brutally realistic or idealised- the way it is portrayed yields different emotional impact.
Classical artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci stun with the anatomical exactness of their portrayal of the body (take a look at the Vitruvian Man). However, it is the figurative work of modern artists that truly captivates me. Flesh and muscle can be rendered insubstantial or obliterated; contours can be distorted in astonishing ways; non-naturalistic colours can be substituted for skin tone. Three artists in particular comes to mind here.
Egon Schiele

Schiele highlights angles inherent in the bone structure and musculature of the body, producing twisted forms that are highly expressive.
Francis Bacon
The impact of Bacon's work is immediate and forceful. Under his hands, the human figure is subjected to physical contortions and material distortions of an extreme degree. Flesh is stripped away to reveal the skeletal structure, dissipates into mist, or melts into slime. The result of such ravages, according to him, is that the ugliness and baseness of human nature is revealed. "We are meat; we are potential carcasses," he declared. His work banished my preconceptions of figurative depiction in painting.
Alberto Giacometti
Giacometti's deceptively simple work is modern figurative sculpture at one of its finest. Emanciated and enveloped by empty space, the figures evoke a sense of loneliness, strain and desolation, but tinged with self-determination in their erect stance. They are a compelling metaphor for the psychological state of human beings in the post-war era and even today.

1 comment:

pradeep said...

This is very good, Those three were really concerned for human existence.
As an art student I closely observed them and studied them. And finally they became my all time favorite.