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Anatomy for the ArtistTitle: Anatomy for the Artist
Author: Sarah Simblet, Photography by John Davis
Copyright: © 2004
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 0-7894-8045-X

Relevance: Any photographer – news, travel, or portrait – working in the field or in the studio can benefit from this book. Crime writers, as well as free form artists, can also take advantage of many of the book's features.

Review: Although primarily designed for artists and other free form drawers of the human form, Anatomy for the Artist can be of strategic interest to many photographers whether they work in news, travel or portrait sectors.

The book starts out with various full color and black and white drawings and photographs of the different elements of the human body. First up are the major systems, including skeleto-muscular, integumentary, respiratory, digestive, urinary, endocrine, nervous, lymphatic and cardiovascular.

This beautifully illustrated, near-coffee table style book then moves on to bones and muscles, including skull bones, facial muscles, neck muscles, as well as the ears and hair. The spinal column, as well as the vertebrae are next. The section concludes with a small piece called Masterclass from famous artists throughout history, including Jean-Auguste Ingres, Francis Bacon, Jacques-Louis David, José de Ribera, Edward Hopper, Hans Holbein, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Michaelangelo, and Raphael.

Each of these Masterclass examples was picked by the author to illustrate key concepts in drawing a particular body part. Michaelangelo, for example, was chosen as the Masterclass to illustrate the process by which artists can draw the skeleton and skeletal bones as he did so much work portraying what we now consider the modern day skeleton in its proper perspective.

The torso including the rib cage, chest muscles and genitals, as well as the shoulder and arm are well illustrated and discussed. The bane of every artist: drawing hands and feet are also discussed and well illustrated. Here the Masterclass examples deal with the work of José de Ribera, a genius of anatomical expression, and Hans Holbein, a court painter to Henry VIII, to illustrate hands and feet.

One of the more interesting aspects for Anatomy for the Artist is its ability to directly show how to draw certain components of the human body in full color photographs and sketches. The book illustrates how the great masters have drawn the chest, head, rib cage, pelvis, hands and feet.

Not only is the book of interest to photographers from an angle of how to capture the nude form, but also serves to illustrate effective use of shadow, composition and other important factors that are key to both black and white and color photography.

Well illustrated, as befits a book from DK Publishing, Anatomy for the Artist provides an outstanding example of how one single book can capture the beauty and magic of the human form. If we were forced to give suggestions on how we could improve this book, we would suggest a spiral binding, rather than the perfect binding supplied as this would further aid laying flat the book. As well, numbers on pages with full color plates would be beneficial as it is sometimes difficult to navigate the book when multiple color plates occur in succession.

This said, we were very impressed by the extra care, attention and detail spent on many of the overlay pages made of a velum type of paper showing underlying structures such as bones in the arm, shoulders, or muscle groups within the abdominal area or back.

One of these overlay pages is particularly useful for artists and photographers and shows 33 interlocking collars of bone we call vertebrae, arranged in five distinct groups.

We were very impressed with Anatomy for the Artist and recommend it to any professional photographer or writer who needs to know how and where everything fits together. It could be argued the choice of models that author Simblet has used shows a prejudice towards young, fit "beautiful" people, and thus does not particularly illustrate the corpulence of the majority of people in today's developed world. This small criticism aside, however, Anatomy for the Artist is a very impressive reference book for anyone connected with drawing or photographing the human form. Recommended.

End of Review

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