Humans as an Art Form

I see myself as a genre artist, painting pictures of people going about their everyday activities. Most of us make some effort, most of the time, to look attractive but some of us make a little more effort to look spectacular.I know about this because as a teenager I was a Hippy wearing mauve flairs, a Mexican poncho and large black felt hat -thank God I don’t have a photo! But I do have a partly completed painting of a woman I saw at the theatre about 40 years ago! I swear this was her outfit for the night.

I observe. I'm always on the lookout for someone who looks a little different. It’s a delicate balance of course between being downright rude by staring to noting the creative brilliance of individualism. Here are a couple more examples from my own work. The first is part of my Brunswick Barbecue showing a great cross section of our friends and family right down to that bloke who insists on still wearing his 20 year old footy outfit!
And this is one is from The Big Wash and she has been voted my best character. No it's not a self portrait! Not yet anyway!
Moving away from images to the real form, a breathing creature as an art form. Living Statues have been around since medieval times where a group enacting a scene would be mounted on an elaborate stand decorated to look like a monument, placed on the route of the procession (Wikipedia). We are all probably familiar with the reenactment of medieval pageants often on show in Europe. The Hero Image today is a photo of one such celebration I happened across many years ago in Italy.

And if it so pleases you it is possible to still hire your own Live Statue in Medieval dress. Do you fancy a St George to help celebrate your birthday?
We see Street Performers all the time and also live human art at some of the galleries. I love it as an art form and admire the incredible self control of the performers. Here we have Human Statue Body Art Installation from the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2014.
And did you know a living statue appeared in a scene of the 1945 French masterpiece film Les enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise),

Italian born Gilbert Prousch (sometimes Proesch) & English born George Passmore are two artists who work together as the collaborative art duo Gilbert & George. Their trade mark is to present a very formal appearance & manner in performance art. They also produce brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks (known as The Pictures) which appeared in an exhibition at Mona (Hobart, Tasmania) in 2015-2016.I can't show you all their work as it would appear they became a little too graphic.
The career of Gilbert & George commenced in 1970 (whilst still students) when they made The Singing Sculpture which was first performed at Nigel Greenwood Gallery, London. For this performance they covered their heads and hands in multi-coloured metalised powders, stood on a table, and sang along and moved to a recording of Flanagan and Allen's song "Underneath the Arches", sometimes for a day at a time. (Wikipedia)

For the purpose of this blog I have defined Human Installation Art as large scale art works involving humans. You have probably seen an example in a very well known Australian advertisement for a certain airline that has something to do with flying kangaroos. Several versions were made. Here is a link to one of them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbGuqmaDgLA

Body Painting of course has been around since humankind began. Humans have always decorated themselves across so many cultures. Nowadays, some people just paint and decorate their bodies for fun. But ancient cultures such as the Australian Aborigines do it for a purpose where every stoke has a meaning.
Indian brides apply henna tattoos.

And tattoos are of course the most common form of body art. The Maori tribes practise Tā moko, the permanent marking of the face and body where the skin is carved by chisels, not punctured leaving grooves rather than a smooth surface. The tattoos represent different tribes and concepts such as family, prosperity, strength.
Many ancient cultures have the tradition of tattooing. And it has come to be far more popular within most modern cultures also. We go to watch our football players to find them covered in tattoos. And the girls are joining in.
We have to conclude with Hair Art. I'm amazed at what can be achieved and must admit I love to see the young having these works of art created by their hairdressers.

We haven't touched costume art, jewellery, hats, stoles but here is Frida Kahlo's *Self portrait with thorn necklace and humingbird (1940) to keep us going.

I'm off to get a tattoo and new hair cut!! But before I do, we have to welcome aboard a new subscriber from Hong Kong who just happens to be very interested in horology as a decorative art form that humans wear. More on this tomorrow.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on anewman@netspace.net.au or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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