Every time an artist portrays a human subject, a decision has to be made about the posture of the figure. Will they be standing, sitting or reclining? Smiling, screaming or weeping? Will they be clasping their hands, crossing their arms or raising their fist?
For the first time, celebrated surrealist and bestselling author Desmond Morris brings together his two fields of expertise – art and science – in a single volume. As well as exploring such familiar actions as the handshake, the nose-thumb and the dominant elbow, he draws us into an absorbing story of art detection, tracing the roots of a number of gestures that have baffled and intrigued the art world for years. Why, for example, did Napoleon pose for official portraits with his right hand thrust into his waistcoat, and what is the meaning of the double-split hand gesture displayed in El Greco’s The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest?
Encompassing a vast range of visual creativity, from prehistoric figurines, Roman artefacts and Renaissance frescoes to contemporary art and graffiti, Postures: Body Language in Art unlocks new ways of looking at art. Surprising similarities are uncovered, as well as now rarely used gestures, so that even the most familiar works are suddenly seen in a new light.