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4.0 out of 5 stars
Artistic Anatomy
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on October 2, 2001
This is a MUST HAVE book for anatomy, and I have taken 2 anatomy classes in art college where this is the only required reading. Yes, the previous reviewer is correct in that labels are incorrect(though only a few) and that it is bewildering why the text and drawings are separated into two parts.
However, this book is nothing less than a classic, and any modern art anatomy book references Richer in one way or other -- just look at the bibliography of any anatomy book. The drawings at the end of the book are especially invaluable. Where else can you find 16 side by side drawings of the rotations of the arm? This alone is priceless in understanding how muscles ACTUALLY WORK rather than simply displaying front and profile pictures.
I would also recommend "Human Antomy for Artists" by Eliot Goldfinger. It is obviously largely based on Richer's work, but deeply expanded in that it covers every single muscle in detail along with photographs of models. However, you need both books, since Goldfinger does not have the case studies that Richer does (Goldfinger shows the muscles clinically and not in actual application) and is not the master illustrator that Richer was.
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on May 8, 2000
Robert Beverly Hale of Columbia University not only edited, but translated this work by Dr. Paul Richer, which was apparently advanced for its time. The same cannot be said today, even though the human body has not changed much in 100 years.
I used this book as my text in a formal class on artistic anatomy, in which we could select one or more of several artistic anatomy texts. Without the class to correct the confusion caused by the book, I would have been lost.
Although I was able to glean most of the necessary information from the text and illustrations, I was frequently confused by mislabeled diagrams and inconsistent translation of technical terms. A sharp-eyed editor would have caught most of these errors, including text that referred to the wrong plate numbers or the wrong figures within the plates. That a book could still be in print after 30 years -- Hale's translation is copyrighted 1971 -- without ever cleaning up such a mess in later editions is unconscionable.
Some of the problems, such as plate numbers mis-referenced in the text, could be bypassed to a large degree if the modern version of the book were not constrained by the format of the original. In the 1890s, technical constraints often led illustrations and typeset text to be printed on different presses, and thus to be grouped separately in the final book. Modern printing technology (as Edward Tufte has pointed out) is not so constrained, so the convention of sticking all the plates in the back is nothing more than an impediment to use. I found myself reading Richer/Hale with my left index finger as a live bookmark in the text section, and my right on the plate being referenced. Awkward to say the least.
Richer also omits illustrating several bones in the skeletal section, either showing them later when describing the muscles, as for the hyoid bone in the throat, or mentioning them only in the text, as for the smallest bones on the undersides of the thumb and big toe. Richer's illustrations of the bones and muscles of the hand are of insufficient integration and detail. Hale, reverent as always towards Richer's plates, did not see fit to address any of these shortcomings by adding any new illustrations of his own.
Finally, readers sensitive to how racial differences in the human body were regarded by late 19th century Europeans might want to either avoid Richer, or view his remarks as an unscientific historical curiosity. Stephen Jay Gould has written on "The Mismeasure of Man," and in Richer we see an example of this mindset, the obsession with measuring the human body with an eye to racial categorization. How long is the Negro humerus -- when you don't account for regional differences within the category of "Negro"?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2003
Although it's rather time consuming to read the text, but they go well with the corresponding illustrations. The illustrations are unbeatable, as they cover all bones and muscles that are of importance to the artiest. Many of the body structures are shown from more than one perspective.
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on November 18, 2002
I actually didn't read the book, I know enough anatomy not to. So I can't say anything about what is written in it. I bought it for the figure drawings, particularly the ones depicting the figure stretched and relaxed. These weren't "dynamic" poses, where the body is contourted into obscene shapes, but simple flexes/stretches by idividual body part (in relation to the others at rest) which follow the range of movement of a muscle. What I liked about these images, were that they were more focus than others I've seen...the images alone are why I bought the book...I deducted a star for only depicting male models, though many art books have a bias toward males.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2000
I have read many anatomy books, this book had good illustrations, but never the less it did no help me much on learning how to draw the female body, the book did not to deem it as important as the male body.
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on May 24, 2000
While the previous reviewer makes some good points about shortcomings in the text, the anatomical drawings, nonetheless, have an unsurpassed descriptive clarity that remains unmatched in the realm of artistic anatomy books. Highly recommended for this reason.
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on December 29, 2014
Best anatomy book i've ever bought. Especially for the price.
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on December 4, 2014
Love it. This is a great book.
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on July 26, 2015
Exelent
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2004
this is definitly an anatomy book. The only real art part of it is the fact that there are no pictures, they are all drawings. There is no insight into drawing the female figure but the muscle structure for the male figure is done well and shows range of motion. The private parts are excluded however (which I didnt mind at all). IT is an excellent resource for anatomy students but not much help for the artist. It will not teach anyone to draw the human figure.
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