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Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.02.35 Michael Squire, The Art of the Body: Antiquity and Its Legacy. Ancients and Moderns. Oxford; New York: Oxford University ress, !"##. $. xv, !%". &S'N ()*"#(+,*"*##. -!%.(+ .$/0.
1eviewed /y Nicole 2ilson, University of 3al4ary .nicole.5.wilson6ucal4ary.ca0
The Art of the Body is Michael Squire’s contribution to the series Ancients and Moderns, edited by Phiroze Vasunia. This new series aims to show not only the influence of the ancient world on the modern, but also how the modern world illuminates the ancient. Squire’s work both stirs u debate on and !com licates the standard narrati"es about the #le$acy’ of %reece and &ome,' ob(ecti"es that Vasunia states are the intention of the series )i*+. Squire, in his Preface, e* licitly states that The Art of the Body is not !a history of ancient art. ,or is it a chronicle of its modern rece tion' )*i+. -nstead, his aim is to !think about the ancient and modern alon$side each other' )*i"+. he wants to re"eal not only the influence of re resentations of the body in antiquity on modernity, but also to show how the influence of modern rece tion, from the rise of /hristianity throu$h the &enaissance and &eformation to modern times, sheds li$ht on ancient art )*i0*ii+. 1ue to this rocess of !mutual illumination' )*ii+ or !two0way enli$htenment' )2+, the book roceeds thematically rather than chronolo$ically. The author focuses his attention rimarily on the %raeco0&oman le$acy of !naturalistic re resentation' )*iii+ ar$uin$ that the idea that re resentations of the human body in art are reco$nizable as bodies )!naturalism'+ dates back to antiquity. 3ut another im ortant theme of his book is reli$ion, which the author ar$ues is an as ect that tends to be i$nored by modern art historians )45+. ,ot only does Squire address the ima$es of $ods and $oddesses in their ancient reli$ious conte*t, but he also ar$ues that !the "arious attem ts to square the /lassical with the /hristian...ha"e directed the entire course of western art e"er since' )21+. The Art of the Body co"ers a lar$e e* anse of time and information in a small amount of s ace, but Squire is quick to oint out the areas of this book that could be o en to criticism, such as its selecti"ity in material and sub(ects )there is a concentration on free0standin$ scul ture+. -ndeed, Squire himself notes that the book asks more questions than it can answer )21+. -t is recisely this self0awareness and candour, alon$ with Squire’s accessible writin$, that make this book one that will a eal to classicists and art historians alike. /ha ter - lays the foundation for the subsequent cha ters. The author uses 6ntonio /ano"a’s Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker )178901785+ to raise questions about antiquity’s influence on :estern art, es ecially with res ect to nudity. ;ere is where Squire’s concern with naturalism be$ins. ,ot only is the medium of the statue )marble+ familiar in western art, but the nudity, ose )contrapposto+, and imitation of a real0life fi$ure are all reco$nizable as ects )102+. Squire ar$ues that these elements are so embedded in the collecti"e western consciousness of "iewin$ that they are taken for $ranted )2+. ;e asks where these "isual con"entions come from, what they mean, and how they ha"e influenced modern western "isual culture. ;e also brin$s the reader’s attention to Polycleitus’ and Vitru"ius’ discussions of ro ortion and symmetry and their lastin$ influence, es ecially on the likes of <eonardo da Vinci )1=+. ,ot only does Squire discuss the intentional use
but im lies !the assum tion of #artistic’ merit rather than mere # orno$ra hical’ arousal' )@1+. . and why it became an ob(ecti"e to make ima$es belie"able and life0like. -n discussin$ how the modern world influences how we look at ancient art. This cha ter attem ts to e* lain where. the !naturalism' in"ol"ed in ortrayin$ the body concerned reli$ion because of the challen$e of de ictin$ %raeco0 &oman $ods. while female.the author turns his attention to the !modern fiction' of the !female nude' )54+. Squire. such as 6ctaeon and Teiresias. . how "iewers ha"e recei"ed those elements )1980192+. F"id. The question of nudity in a &oman conte*t introduces another issue.e traces this inheritance of classical features to . chan$es in the resentation of art are bound to !chan$in$ cultural. the reli$ious as ect of these ima$es is im ortant to hi$hli$ht. . This cha ter icks u the discussion of naturalism from /ha ter --.9 of classical art and naturalism in modern art. Met. such as Surrealism and >* ressionism. usin$ Pra*iteles’ statue of 6 hrodite of Cnidos )ca.9=2094@+. such as those of %eor$e :ashin$ton and Mussolini. 6 hrodite. Bor e*am le. 258 3/>+. Squire concludes that the !ancient art of the body remains with us ? whether as an ideal. but by modern artists )11@+. /ha ter -. but he also discusses the re(ection of these influences by modern artistic mo"ements. Deu*is. or oint of de arture' )9@+. rare e*am les of lar$e0scale bronze statues from the Ath century. when he ainted the three $oddesses in his Judgement of Paris. :hile Squire does not ha"e answers for how to "iew the !female nude' and admits that e"en in antiquity there would ha"e been no strai$htforward answers )185+. The discussion about the re resentation of the female body makes the intertwined relationshi between ancient and modern art history clear. -n his ne*t cha ter. a hrase that not only refers to women without clothin$. are im ossible in their hysical symmetry. The more accurately a statue imitates the human body ? the more accurately it a ro*imates naturalism ? the later the date it is $i"en )AA+. Squire turns his attention to the male $aze and the a ro riateness of ortrayin$ 6 hrodite naked. and about the indi"idual "iewin$ sub(ect on the other' )57+.addresses e* licitly the issues of what modern art historians call !naturalism' in ancient and modern art. his italics+. -n /ha ter --. The author uses the &iace bronzes )c. 18. Squire answers this question by ar$uin$ that naturalism was not an invention or art of what modern art historians call the !%reek &e"olution' )59+. chose the best arts of fi"e different models to ortray the female body. discusses the use of the term !female nude' to describe the ancient ima$es of ancient di"inities. intellectual. and e* lores the fate of the "iewer of ima$es of a naked 6 hrodite.e criticizes the assum tion that !naturalism' has always been !an ob(ecti"e and em irical standard' )A2+ ? this oint is at the heart of the ar$ument of The Art of the Body. The disa ointment of !real' women is found not only in antiquity )as e*em lified by the le$end of Py$malion. and therefore these !natural' bodies also are idealized in their own sense )58059+. when. Squire notes that we "iew ancient bodies in modern muscular terms. 6fter establishin$ this mode of !seein$ women' or more accurately idealizin$ women. e"en in antiquityE no real. Squire re"eals how modern artists ha"e used elements from ancient art and.1 The messa$e is clear. Squire ar$ues. such as durin$ the %erman >nli$htenment.o body is this symmetrical. more im ortantly. natural woman can match a man’s ideal )79+. Squire asks questions about the inheritance of %reek motifs. .e hi$hli$hts the mytholo$ical fates of those who saw $oddesses naked. =@80 =28 3/>+ to discredit this line of ar$ument. not only by the &omans. Bor Squire !the art of the body can only be understood in cultic terms' )57. a result of our knowled$e of the body from human dissection )A70A4+. and theolo$ical ideas about fi$uration on the one hand. These works. was more im ortantly a $oddess. Throu$h "arious modern ortraits. antity e. early %reek ima$es of the body a ear different from those we associate with the !/lassical' eriod. but also is echoed in the story of the Victorian art critic Gohn &uskin’s shock at the reality of his naked wife )7=+.
:inckelmann’s claim that &oman art was !not only #deri"ati"e’ )i. that !there is no e"idence that &oman "iewers found #hybrid0bodies’ #confused’. /hristian art was fashioned out of and also a$ainst ancient traditions of de ictin$ $ods in human form. such as "erism in ortraits. it is this time that has a"ed the way for art and art history as we know it )14A+. . 1ebates about what the di"ine body looks like and the a ro riateness of "isually ortrayin$ it e*ist today. Pliny.e$el’s ideas about the history of art notin$ that . or indeed as somethin$ eradicated by 6u$ustus' )1=4+. On nvention. or &oman atrician with &oman lebian+.or . The questions about /hrist and his body continued to be discussed durin$ the &eformation.G. -t is this ost0&eformationH ost0>nli$htenment #art for art’s sake’ that has influenced the western way of "iewin$ art )981+.e. . and will be a welcome resource for an ad"anced le"el course on art history. 6nn 6rborE The Ini"ersity of Michi$an Press. or #monstrous’ in the way that modern critics ha"e done. 6. 9 P. . but also in its messa$e of immortality for the em eror )12A01=9+. The rece tion of &oman art is notoriously ne$ati"e. -t is the modern scholar’s reoccu ation with !naturalism' that finds these !hybrid' scul tures offensi"e )1A9+ and Squire is ri$ht to brin$ the con"ersation back to how the &omans "iewed these ieces. ar$ue that it took 6u$ustus to set the &omans on the ri$ht ath to artistic e* ression. throu$h its mistrust of what can be seen. and re(ect %reek artistic con"entions for their own a$endas. . and he admits that the transition from a$an to /hristian ima$ery was not a strai$htforward rocess )1A5+.e notes that the rece tion of %raeco0&oman art in"ol"ed !an entan$led rocess of cultural0 cum0theolo$ical ne$otiation. Squire ends his book with an e*tensi"e section on !Burther &eadin$' )9890997+. ada t. trans. Sha iro. $i"en &oman attem ts to incor orate. Squire’s o"erall oint here is that !%raeco0&oman ima$es hel ed determine not only what /hristian ima$es looked like. 9. and calls them the first !neoclassicists' )11@+ ? ri$htly so. 6ccordin$ to Squire. and this is not eculiar to /hristianity. it is durin$ this time that the crucified Gesus is first shown naked )1490142+. /icero. The re"i"al of classical forms in the &enaissance also had a reli$ious com onent. both in antiquity and today.e continues to ar$ue that the con"entions of 3yzantine and Mediae"al art were a reaction to those ancient traditions.is a roach to the history of the body and naturalism in art brin$s to the forefront the im ortance of reli$ion. The Power of mages in the Age of Augustus. can we dismiss the trait as some #mon$relisation’ of art )%reek with &oman. Natural !istory. but also how they were understood' )141. his italics+. #incon$ruous’.5=. and the use of the to$a to clothe a nude body )19@0121+. Squire also discusses the way that the &omans se arated their treatment of the heads and bodies in their ortraits. and in lar$e art can be attributed to G. -t is in /ha ter V that Squire confronts the influence of /hristianity and modern reli$ious thou$ht on our inter retation of ancient art. The author de"otes much attention to the influence of the Prima Porta 6u$ustus on subsequent im erial re resentations..' and this has influenced western "isual culture u to the resent day )1A5+. The author resents his reader with interestin$ questions. not only in terms of its combination of %reek and &oman elements. 2A. Notes: 1. . Squire draws on %eor$ :ilhelm Briedrich . howe"er. but also in bad taste' )1=4+. Squire concludes that the &eformation re resents a theolo$ical reaction a$ainst the ancient art of the body and that this mo"ement directly influences our mode of "iewin$ art )147+. . Scholars like P. The Art of the Body is an e*cellent addition to the Ancients and Moderns series. which he admits focuses on >n$lish sources. . The author discusses the difficulty in ortrayin$ Gesus’ di"inity and humanity as well as the differin$ o inions about how to do so.e$el was the first to discuss these sub(ects and to link them to reli$ion )1470144+.2 the &omans. Danker )1477+.9 Squire notes.1. arasitic on the %reek+. Danker.