Body Art

World of Art

Body Art

  1. Nicholas Thomas
  • ISBN 9780500204207
  • 21.00 x 15.00 cm
  • Paperback
  • 208pp
  • 186 Illustrations, 143 in colour
  • First published 2014
  • See more books in theWorld of Art Series

Body art is the most intimate art form, linking the self, the senses, and the social and political. Today, in almost any major city worldwide, you will encounter tattoos, piercings, henna painting and elaborate hairstyles

Body Art spread

In recent years, body art has proliferated in an unprecedented way, borrowing motifs and practices from many different traditions. What is it that new and borrowed body arts do, and what do they tell us about the global culture that we now inhabit?

Anthropologist and art historian Nicholas Thomas explores these questions and many more in this wide-ranging survey of body arts from prehistoric origins to the present.

He illuminates their role in expressing personal and cultural identity; their longstanding associations with ritual, theatricality, criminality and beauty; and their recent resurgence via the Modern Primitive movement and the work of contemporary artists such as Marc Quinn and Rebecca Belmore.

More than 180 illustrations chronicle the extraordinary diversity of body arts, from Australian and African traditions of painting and scarification to Chinese footbinding, Russian prison tattoos, Harlem drag balls and the inked designs worn by celebrities such as Tupac Shakur and David Beckham. For anyone with a personal or professional interest in the subject, Body Art offers a timely and intelligent celebration of this quintessentially human art form.

Nicholas Thomas is Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His books include Oceanic Art (Thames & Hudson, 1995), Islanders: The Pacific in the Age of Empire, which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize and, with Peter Brunt, Art in Oceania: A New History, which was awarded the Art Book Prize. He has collaborated with artists and curated exhibitions for many museums in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, including ‘Skin Deep: A History of Tattooing’ for the National Maritime Museum, London.