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The Art of the Body: Antiquity and Its Legacy

The Art of the Body: Antiquity and Its Legacy
Michael Squire

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The art of the human body is arguably the most important and wide-ranging legacy bequeathed to us by Classical antiquity. Not only has it directed the course of western image-making, it has shaped our collective cultural imaginary - as ideal, antitype, and point of departure. This book is the first concerted attempt to grapple with that legacy: it explores the complex relationship between Graeco-Roman images of the body and subsequent western engagements with them, from the Byzantine icon to Venice Beach (and back again). Instead of approaching his material chronologically, Michael Squire faces up to its inherent modernity. Writing in a lively and accessible style, and supplementing his text with a rich array of pictures, he shows how Graeco-Roman images inhabit our world as if they were our own. The Art of the Body offers a series of comparative and thematic accounts, demonstrating the range of cultural ideas and anxieties that were explored through the figure of the body both in antiquity and in the various cultural landscapes that came afterwards.

If we only strip down our aesthetic investment in the corpus of Graeco-Roman imagery, Squire argues, this material can shed light on both ancient and modern thinking. The result is a stimulating process of mutual illumination - and an exhilarating new approach to Classical art history.

Author Info

Michael Squire is Junior Research Fellow in Classics and Art History at Christ’s College in Cambridge, and Alexander von Humboldt-Stipendiat at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. His other books include Panorama of the Classical World (with Nigel Spivey; 3rd edition 2011), Image and Text in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (2009) and The Iliad in a Nutshell: Visualizing Epic on the Iliac Tablets (2011); he has also co-edited The Art of Art History in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (2010).


‘Squire’s brief but wide-ranging (and amply illustrated) book is packed with ideas... Squire is surely right that art history loses sight of Graeco-Roman antiquity at its peril.’
– Catherine Edwards, TLS

‘Michael Squire’s book offers a fresh, thought-provoking and highly enjoyable discussion of the art of the Classical body and its legacy…a creative, insightful and original book. Squire writes well and can be highly amusing…While the subject is vast ambitious Squire manages to anchor it in detailed visual analysis of specific famous sculptures…the result is authoritative and user friendly…The book has much of value to say to Classicists, those engaged in Reception Studies and indeed to the general reader.’
– The Anglo-Hellenic Review

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: Ancients and Moderns

ISBN: 9781845119317
Publication Date: 30 Mar 2011
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 70 integrated, 16 colour in 8pp plates

ISBN: 9781845119300
Publication Date: 30 Mar 2011
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 70 integrated, 16 colour in 8pp plates

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