Visual Encyclopedia

Human figure (aesthetics)

In aesthetics, the human figure or human form in art, sculpture and other art forms involves a study and appreciation of the beauty of the human body in its depiction or presentation. The study involves an appreciation of the body shape, including body postures - sitting, standing or even sleeping, and movements - walking, running, dancing etc. Kant refers to the human figure as the ideal of beauty. The human figure conforms very well to the law that states that form follows function, which is a result of evolution over thousands of generations.

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Basic artistic proportions for the body are based on the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin. The body is made up of eight of these distances: 1. The actual head, 2. Neck to mid chest, 3. Mid chest to belly button (this is where the body tapers to and the hips start), 4. belly button to crotch (the line for thighs must start here), 5 and 6. Thighs, 7 and 8. Calves (women are shorter than men and this tends to be reflected in the length of the calf which is slightly shorter in women than in men). Arms are harder because there are more variations on length, but the upper arm is a little less than two heads, and the forearm is a little over one head. Hands are slightly shorter than a head, and feet (with no foreshortening) are a little more than one head. To get from mid neck to the edge of the shoulder, try approximately one head, so from shoulder to shoulder is about two heads.

Contributed by Katie Rose Palmer

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