Art Anatomy


This book is especially intended as a primer on artistic anatomy. If this is your first book on the subject, I offer you a warm welcome. Here is the logic of the body. It is not mysterious, and you can learn it. If you do, your figure drawings will be more convincing, more beautiful, and more easily done.

Until the present age, artists could hardly have gotten through their schooling or apprenticeship without this material being drummed into their heads. But the teaching of art has changed along with art itself, and anatomy is now often taught in a cursory way. This is perhaps necessary in order to talk about the great range of issues influencing art that didn't exist as recently as a hundred years ago, but it results in a smattering of knowledge, rendered ineffective by its incompleteness and disorder. When it occasionally produces artists who work with the figure, they are hindered by ignorance, and haunted by the shame of the paucity of their knowledge compared to even middling artists of every period from the Renaissance to Impressionism.

Art is a product of culture, and the cultural winds that filled the sails of the great masters of drawing have largely blown out for us. The sails are now full on a different class of vessels, and the art magazines report their meandering movements with laughable seriousness. But the good news is your interest in this volume. You are an indispensable member of a culture that refuses to let this information go out of existence despite fuming demands by certain parties that it do so. You have my best wishes, and my sincere hope that this book helps you in your efforts.

The pronunciations given in the text are pulled from some official sources - the dictionary, Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, and others - and some unofficial ones. The American medical field uses a system of pronunciation that has not been adequately compiled into an authoritative corpus - students of medicine learn them from their teachers as an oral tradition. The pronunciations in this volume have been made to agree with common usage, even though they sometimes differ markedly from Taber's (whose pronunciations often grate on the ear of American medical practitioners). For this reason the reader may find inconsistencies between this volume and others, although any mistakes are my own.

As an introduction to anatomy, this book concentrates on the forms all people have in common. Thus it omits a number of important and interesting topics, notably proportion, and distinctions of age, race, fitness, and (excepting the primary sexual characteristics) gender. I am reserving these topics for a forthcoming book, which I believe is necessary in order to do them justice. In the meantime I would refer the reader to the Bibliography, especially Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers Peck, my favorite treatment of this material, although many of the other authors cover it with great competence.

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