Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Expressive Torso




Above: a selection of Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. Including the famous Laoco├Ân (top), a torso from the Parthenon frieze (middle left), and the Belvedere Torso (bottom right). 



Above: Sculpture and drawings by Michelangelo. 


Above: Torso studies by Rodin.

Above: Degas


The large basic building blocks of the torso, the ribcage and pelvis can be imagined as two basic blocks, separated by space about the width of a fist, that have the dynamic range of motion to provide the human figure with a core of expressive energy. From the front the width of the pelvis and ribcage, at their widest are equivalent. From the side they are also similar in width but from this view we must consider the angle of each, determined by the “S” curve of the spine. The pelvis, as seen from the side, as a slight lean forward (with a more pronounced angle in the female figure to facilitate the birthing process). The ribs as seen from the side, taper towards the neck and in combination with the back-leaning angle of the thoracic vertebrae,  give the impression of a subtle backwards lilt. If an artist interested in drawing the figure can successfully capture the basic thrust of dynamic interaction between these two building blocks, they can render the remainder of the figure (the head, and limbs) with greater facility. 

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