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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 25, Issue 1/2, 2009

Elvira K. Katić
Pages 77-101

The Living Canvas
Bodies that Serve and Simulate Art

This study analyzes artworks by a professional fine-art bodypainter. This artist used his models’ bodies as both inspiration and canvas. The bodies/artworks were then photographed and the resulting images were hung as finished pieces in his gallery. Through semiotic analysis of the artworks and discourse analysis of interviews with the artist, relationships between the human body and artistic conventions were explored and fine-art bodypainting was discussed as an art form. The painted images are copies of natural forms that have been reinterpreted in new “living” forms, as they are painted onto and in relation to a living body. These living canvases change the contextual interpretations of the original painted images in integral ways. The completed photographs resist categorization as mere simulacra because their intentionally questioning construction asks us to rethink the relationships between artist, subject, and observer.

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