The Body’ is one of Edward Lucie-Smith’s many books covering a myriad aspects of art, movements, styles, individual artists and influences.
This one addresses ‘the artist’s, and the viewer’s, reactions to the perennial theme of the unclothed figure in western art’. 173 Illustrations, the great majority as colour plates, provide a visual background as the author discusses the nude from seven chronological perspectives, from Antiquity and the Renaissance, to Modernism. An Introduction considers the nude across art history before the works are presented, in groups, each accompanied by a critical commentary.
The works range from an ink on limestone drawing of an Egyptian “Acrobatic Dancer”, c. 1305-1080 BC, to Michael Leonard’s pencil drawing “Stripped Torso 6”, 1980. The illustration on the front jacket cover is a detail from “Half-length Nude”, 1929, by Christian Schad, an excellent choice albeit a difficult one given the thousands of images available.