Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

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Boethius
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Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

Post by Boethius » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:41 am

I have a background in Fine Art and am just getting to strength training. However I always found it a little shocking to see the exaggerated physiques and ungraceful poses of modern body building compared to the practitioners of physical culture of the late 19th and early 20th century.

The goal of European physical activity for a long time (even as far back as the 1600's from what I know from primary sources and probably much earlier) whether it was dancing or standing to give a speech was as to acquire movement and pose informed by the principles of European art. The body when standing and moving should imitate artistic ideals that you see in Grecian statues and movement was to be consistent with that ideal. So I was not surprised to see this comment in another thread.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=404&p=7612#p7612
sticksb wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:49 pm
Perfect proportions and classic statue poses . Years ago I took a friend of mine to a bodybuilding show (regional).
She was an art major at Syracuse University . " What do you think ?" I asked her ." For the most part they look like
a bunch of body parts stuck together. No grace . No flow . Despite the bulging muscles there seemed no athletic
grace to most of the physiques displayed ". I think if Duranton or Clancy Ross were on that stage it might have
changed her mind . The Europeans through the 80s found that happy balance along with the Zanes and Baldwins
of the bodybuilding world.
Does anyone also have any insight why these ideals in posing were rejected? In many arts academies since about the 60's there has been is a similar rejection of this ideal.
Additionally I have been reading Monte Saldo's How to Pose and I am wondering if there are any other books that anyone can recommend that have any sections on academic art poses or classical poses?

N.B: I have noticed that the library seems to be missing a copy of Monte Saldo's How to Pose. Copies of the scans from the old maxalding.co.uk website contributed by Ron Tyrrell have been archived through archive.org and can be accessed at https://web.archive.org/web/20130104015 ... -intro.htm

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Harry Hayfield
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Re: Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

Post by Harry Hayfield » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:10 am

Boethius wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:41 am
I have a background in Fine Art and am just getting to strength training. However I always found it a little shocking to see the exaggerated physiques and ungraceful poses of modern body building compared to the practitioners of physical culture of the late 19th and early 20th century.

The goal of European physical activity for a long time (even as far back as the 1600's from what I know from primary sources and probably much earlier) whether it was dancing or standing to give a speech was as to acquire movement and pose informed by the principles of European art. The body when standing and moving should imitate artistic ideals that you see in Grecian statues and movement was to be consistent with that ideal. So I was not surprised to see this comment in another thread.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=404&p=7612#p7612
sticksb wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:49 pm
Perfect proportions and classic statue poses . Years ago I took a friend of mine to a bodybuilding show (regional).
She was an art major at Syracuse University . " What do you think ?" I asked her ." For the most part they look like
a bunch of body parts stuck together. No grace . No flow . Despite the bulging muscles there seemed no athletic
grace to most of the physiques displayed ". I think if Duranton or Clancy Ross were on that stage it might have
changed her mind . The Europeans through the 80s found that happy balance along with the Zanes and Baldwins
of the bodybuilding world.
Does anyone also have any insight why these ideals in posing were rejected? In many arts academies since about the 60's there has been is a similar rejection of this ideal.
Additionally I have been reading Monte Saldo's How to Pose and I am wondering if there are any other books that anyone can recommend that have any sections on academic art poses or classical poses?

N.B: I have noticed that the library seems to be missing a copy of Monte Saldo's How to Pose. Copies of the scans from the old maxalding.co.uk website contributed by Ron Tyrrell have been archived through archive.org and can be accessed at https://web.archive.org/web/20130104015 ... -intro.htm
As a new comer to the group, I believe it would be suitable to inform you that we lost Sticks about a year ago, therefore he will be unable to answer personally.
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

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David Gentle
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Re: Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

Post by David Gentle » Thu Mar 26, 2020 9:48 am

I along with Dr Alan Radley wrote a hardback book some years ago, called Muscle Art and Inspirations, it used to be available on Amazon, Alan may also have copies to sell, you would have to find him on the web. Basically it agrees with you, the real aesthetics went out of the bodybuilding game when steroids made their entrance and physiques just grew and grew like Topsy. Behind it all as always is money, the producers of supplements encouraged guys and girls to get huge out of proportions just to make money, nor did the judges of contests help much as they too began to look for bigger bulkier shapes. Tony Sansone, Angelo Siciliano aka Charles Atlas were or had the physiques most "normal people" admired, but the genii is out of the bottle, only time will bring back what most still consider as good academic physiques. David Gentle take a real look through the site to discover the type of build you admire.
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peter yates
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Re: Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

Post by peter yates » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:23 am

Hi Boethius, as you well know at one time the early Physical Culture pioneers such as Sandow,Saldo etc. were inspired the statues of ancient Greece.Clean lines, proportion,balance and grace were as, if not more so,important than muscular size.Physical Culture also aimed to foster the development of well rounded individuals,who could display their strength and athleticism in various ways.Besides lifting weights,hand balancing, swimming,cycling, wrestling and other physical pursuits were encouraged,this in itself created more well balanced and aesthetic physiques that looked good in a relaxed pose.Diet and other hygiene aspects were also taken seriously. As time went on the ability to display strength and athleticism slowly became divorced from the building of the physique.We can already see this as early as the 1940s but by the 1960s the split was much more pronounced.Once the building of muscle became the focus, the only way to go was even more muscle, and any way to get that muscle would be tolerated even at the expense of health and well being. By the 80s bodybuilding had changed dramatically and the sub culture cared little for the pursuit of health,physical ability outside the gym and an aesthetic appearance,and when the 90s arrived it was mass at all costs until we have the state of affairs today were not only professional bodybuilders but any Joe in gym has access to a wide range of PEDs and take them, drink alcohol,engage in recreational drug use and eat crap when not preparing for a contest.The results are nothing like a Greek statue.Still there are still others who embrace a more holistic approach to training and like everything else the pendulum may swing back in that direction.End of the day it all depends on what the individual wants or needs.For myself the physiques from the late 19th century up to the 1960s are the most pleasing.However the majority of youngsters may rather see the modern day size monsters.
Regards,Peter.
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Boethius
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Re: Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

Post by Boethius » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:40 am

David Gentle wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 9:48 am
I along with Dr Alan Radley wrote a hardback book some years ago, called Muscle Art and Inspirations, it used to be available on Amazon, Alan may also have copies to sell, you would have to find him on the web. Basically it agrees with you, the real aesthetics went out of the bodybuilding game when steroids made their entrance and physiques just grew and grew like Topsy. Behind it all as always is money, the producers of supplements encouraged guys and girls to get huge out of proportions just to make money, nor did the judges of contests help much as they too began to look for bigger bulkier shapes. Tony Sansone, Angelo Siciliano aka Charles Atlas were or had the physiques most "normal people" admired, but the genii is out of the bottle, only time will bring back what most still consider as good academic physiques. David Gentle take a real look through the site to discover the type of build you admire.
I am still fairly new to much of the PC material and still newly coming into contact with the careers of the people different era's so I appreciate the recommendation. The author profiles in the library and the blog posts have been helpful in seeing how different people developed and introducing me to different material. It has given me much to think about about how to progress into the future.

You make an interesting point about the change in preference of the judges of the competitions. I remember reading that the judges for Sandow's 'Great Competition' were himself (who was formally an art model), Arthur Conan Doyle (a medical doctor), and Charles Lawes-Wittewronge (a sculptor) so I guess you could say they all had a backgrounds that are different to what is now conventional in judging. I imagine too it may be in part too the current criteria for judging at contents do not really have much regard for any particular artistic ideal and so the physiques were always bound to change once influences of money and more PED became involved.

I agree with you Peter with what you say about the physiques up until the 60s. In the photographs it seems apparent to me that people such as Reeves, Atlas etc. had a much more wholistic approach to their body. It seems many in the past chose paths of development that reflected their own personal build and its natural distribution of muscle and then tried to put that to its greatest advantage in a constructing a pose. As you say there has been a rather extreme focus on mass recently from PED and the supplement industry since. I guess that explains what I have seen over the years where there has been quite a focus on mass poses around such the 'most muscular' and others. I do understand their purpose in contests so mass can be evaluated for judging, but I do also find it hard find it hard to conceive it as graceful as classical poses and that mass poses should generally warrant such a focus outside of contests.

RickHarley
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Re: Modern Body Building and Academic Art Poses

Post by RickHarley » Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:59 am

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