Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist
Human form has long challenged the artist’s creative powers. Its irresistible force of communication places it among the foremost instruments of graphic expression. Its versatility so captures the imagination that, now and again, human form has emerged as the theme itself. It is natural that the artist should investigate human structure in order to express its form. Yet access to the dissecting room is not always easy, and not always profitable. In any case the facts require translation, for the artist will be exploring the ::esthetics of anatomy. I think of this as relating structural design to sensuous design. The one must be learned, the other perceived. This is the substance of what is called artistic anatomy. It is the dual aim here to present the separate structures and to create a working awareness of their integration.
This book is not a treatise on drawingin the sense of cultivating quality and style. Nor does it touch upon the fundamentals of figure drawing-line, form, action, and so on. Important as they are, they lie beyond the scope of an anatomy book. Quite simply, this is a manual for the student who feels the need of exploring and memorizing human design. One question is apt to arise at the very outset: just how well versed in anatomy must the artist be? And although beginning students are surely entitled to ask the question, I find it difficult to answer. A man’s art is his personal domain. It is a matter not of professional requirements, but of what one artist’s ideas require. This atlas is, of course, a condensation of facts, and a trans-ation to the idiom of the artist. In view of this, the beginner should perhaps set out to learn everything he can. Whatever seems in his experience to be useless debris will be dropped soon enough by the wayside. But a word of caution to the zealous student. Anatomy is complex. Its very complexities are fascinating, but they are likely to lead the way to unreasonable evaluations. The student should not assume that it is necessary to be correct at all costs in these matters of bone and muscle. In one sense, a human body is the sum of its parts. But this premise can both help and hinder. It can hinder when we attend to the parts and ignore the sum. It is true the student must work at first to be correct, but he should never forget that there is little virtue in sheer correctness. Ultimately, he should propose-right or wrong-to be convincing. He should acquire such mastery of structure that he no longer depends on the accuracy of his eye or the patience of his model. He will want to gain, in his own right, such command of human forms and contours that his creation will become identified not with his anatomy charts, but with him. I believe, in fact, it is those aberrations of the anatomical truth that so often make a piece of work personal and exciting.
I hope the reader may find here both knowledge and a point of view. In these pages I have tried to put him in closer touch with a masterful design. May his penetration of that design enlarge his capacity for response to the world about him.
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|November 7, 2017|
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