Postures: Body Language in Art

Desmond Morris

Postures: Body Language in Art
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Postures: Body Language in Art

Desmond Morris

Examining the body language displayed in works of art is a whole new way of looking at art. The gestures portrayed can reflect the mores of a particular period in history, the customs of a certain culture or a fashion in artistic styles. Exploring these with masterful subtlety, celebrated artist and anthropologist Desmond Morris uncovers fascinating insights about changing social attitudes and conventions through history and around the world, finding surprising similarities as well as now rarely used gestures.

Morris selects a number of key gestures, such as the handshake, the pointed foot, or the glove-slap, and groups them by the message they are intended to convey, such as Greetings, Status and Threats. He discusses the previously unconsidered symbolism behind these. What is understood as a gang sign today may have borne a more enigmatic meaning for Botticelli. And what did Napoleon’s hidden hand really mean?

Postures: Body Language in Art uniquely combines the author’s expertise in both art and social science, so that even the most familiar paintings are suddenly seen in a new light.   

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