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.
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 Universitat, Munich and Humboldt Universitat zu Berlin. His other books include Panorama of the Classical World (with Nigel Spivey; second edition 2008), 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).