Research point- historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying structure of the body

Look for historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying structure of the body

In researching his subject the first and most obvious artist to look at (in my mind) was Leonardo da Vinci.  He drew and painted many beautiful anatomical drawings and this was explained beautifully in a Telegraph article ( transcribed below:

One day, probably during the winter of 1507-08, Leonardo da Vinci found himself chatting with an old man in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. Sitting on a bed, the man revealed that he felt nothing wrong with his body other than weakness, despite being more than 100 years old. “And thus,” Leonardo recorded, “without any movement or sign of any mishap, he passed from this life. And I dissected him to see the cause of so sweet a death.” It was not the first time that Leonardo had sliced into a corpse: by 1508, by his own reckoning, he had conducted more than 10 human dissections. Nine years later, this tally had risen above 30. But his study of the cadaver “del vechio” (“of the old man”), as Leonardo called him, rekindled his long-held obsession with the structure of the human body.

leonardofinal_2627141b leonardo shoulderandneck2 leonardo IMG_3181_london2012_gueensgallery_davincianatomist

In the years that followed, the pre-eminent polymath of the High Renaissance embarked on arguably the most exhaustive and insightful campaign of anatomical investigation ever waged in the history of medical science. The fruits of this research, a series of 18 mostly double-sided sheets known collectively as the Anatomical Manuscript A, overflow with more than 240 meticulous drawings as well as 13,000 words of notes written in his idiosyncratic “mirror-script”.

Another artist who did numerous Anatomical Studies of the human body, was  peter-paul-rubens  (Flemish, 1577 – 1640).  It is thought that he planned to produce an instructional book on human anatomy, which he never published.

Follow this link to a beautiful example of his work, showing three figures with defined muscular structure of the back, buttocks, and legs, drawn almost as if  without skin. The skillfully drawn forms show his complex grasp of the human body in three dimensions.

An interesting contemporary contrast is Fernando Vicente.  He produced a series of works which he entitled “Vanities” (2008)

“For a long time, the inside of the human body has been reserved for the exclusive use of medicine and science. It is time to claim it for our own contemplation.”

Thus does Fernando Vicente summarize the concept behind his Vanitas series.  His models, oblivious to their own exposure, tantalisingly reveal muscles, tendons, viscera and bones, presenting us with a difficult yet disturbingly enticing experience.

fernando-vicente-vanitas- corazonada

Equally captivating are his Anatomías and Venus  series, the first being  an exploration of the body as machine and the second a reinterpretation of classical feminine beauty in a contemporary alternative framework.

In his final year at the Pratt Institute, New York, 25 year old Danny Quirk worked on a series of paintings that he called ‘Anatomical Self-Dissections’.

danny quirk anatomical self disections

He recently graduated and is an aspiring medical illustrator. He produces surreal and beautiful portraits exploring our perception of what is beneath our skin.  He ‘dissects with a paint brush’ turning eye catching body paintings into anatomically accurate renditions of the body for educational gain.  Visit his FB page Danny Quirk Artwork.

danny quirk2 steph-step-by-step-1024x457

danny quirk thoracolumbarbodypaintsmall-1024x822

Another artist I have stumbled upon is Sarah Simblet.  I have one of her books:

  • The Drawing Book: An innovative, practical approach to drawing the world around you by Sarah Simblet 
  • She has also written a book called Anatomy for the Artist (Which I have ordered and hope to learn a lot from)

I love the freshness and looseness of her work.  She explores the anatomy of the body and also produces beautiful realistic sensitive figure drawings that reflect her understanding of structure .

sarah simblet anatomy for artists

simplet sketch-book-for-the-artist-2-638


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