Body Art

What is the definition of body art?

Body art is a kind of modern art in which the artist’s own body serves as the “canvas” or “piece of art.” Body art encompasses many disciplines, including body painting, tattoo art, face painting, nail art, piercings, make-up, mime and living statues, and photography; however, it is strongly tied to conceptual art and performance art. It can be developed in solitude and subsequently presented in images or video recordings, or it can be created in front of an audience ‘live.’ Several modern performance artists (such as Chris Burden, Gina Pane, and Benjamin Vautier) have gained notoriety by inflicting pain on themselves or scaring the audience with extreme behaviours such as drug use, self-mutilation, sexuality, and masochism. These body-related disciplines are featured at some of the best contemporary art festivals, including special events such as Body Painting festivals and several of the best modern art galleries. They exemplify the postmodernist tendency to broaden the definition of art far beyond the traditionalist sphere of drawing, painting, and sculpture. On the other hand, some art critics adopt a more limited approach, classifying performance-related body art as entertainment rather than a distinct type of visual art.

History and Origins

Body art, at least in the form of body painting, may be traced back to the ancient past, when colour pigments such as red ochre were used for cultural purposes. Face painting and tattooing are both old art techniques that are still practised worldwide, from North America to New Zealand, while mime may be traced back to Ancient Greek theatrical gestural art forms. Body sculptures (a type of street art), nail art, and performance body art are among the most current varieties. The latter originally debuted in the mid-1960s and then faded away until reappearing in the 1990s.