Postures: Body Language in Art


Desmond Morris, bestselling author of The Naked Ape, explores how understanding posture and body language can change the way we look at art.


ISBN: 9780500022610 Category:

Desmond Morris


Examining the body language displayed in works of art is a whole new way of looking at art. The gestures portrayed can reflect the mores of a particular period in history, the customs of a certain culture or a fashion in artistic styles. Exploring these with masterful subtlety, celebrated artist and anthropologist Desmond Morris uncovers fascinating insights about changing social attitudes and conventions through history and around the world, finding surprising similarities as well as now rarely used gestures.

Morris selects a number of key gestures, such as the handshake, the pointed foot, or the glove-slap, and groups them by the message they are intended to convey, such as Greetings, Status and Threats. He discusses the previously unconsidered symbolism behind these. What is understood as a gang sign today may have borne a more enigmatic meaning for Botticelli. And what did Napoleon’s hidden hand really mean? Postures: Body Language in Art uniquely combines the author’s expertise in both art and social science, so that even the most familiar paintings are suddenly seen in a new light.

Additional information

Weight 1076 g
Dimensions 17.7 x 24.9 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 3 October 2019
Number of pages 320
Format Hardback
Dimensions 17.7 x 24.9 cm
Weight 1076 g


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Desmond Morris is a zoologist, ethnologist and painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology. He is the bestselling author of The Naked Ape (1967), The Human Zoo (1969), Manwatching (1977), Body Talk: A World Guide to Gestures (1994), The Artistic Ape: Three Million Years of Art (2013) and The Lives of the Surrealists (Thames & Hudson, 2018), as well as many other titles.