Postures: Body Language in Art

Thames & Hudson. Nov. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9780500022610. $39.95. FINE ARTS
Surrealist artist and author (The Lives of Surrealists) Morris examines human body language in artwork of various mediums. He provides the history, description, and images of the gestures. Such gestures include blessings, status, distress, the erotic, and threats. Within each gesture, he explains specific works of art. For example, Morris describes the tongue-out as an example of an insult, then illustrates Roeloff van Zijl’s Elisha Mocked by Boys (1625–30) and the photograph of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue (1951). The author also cites the 18th-century artist Joseph Ducreux’s Self-portrait, Yawning (1783) and Chinese artist Fang Lijun’s Series 2 No. 2 (1991–92) as examples of yawning to illustrate being at rest. Morris provides historical and cultural context, and its similarities to the present. Extensive images (mostly in color) of illustrations, sculptures, posters, paintings, murals, and sketches reveal Morris’s extensive research and passion for the subject.
VERDICT Edifying and full of appreciation, analysis, and insight into human gestures as art. Of interest to art students, scholars, and historians, as well as engaged general readers.
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