Fashion and Art – The painted Body Blog one

The painted body is a combination of both fashion and art. As we know, art has been around since the beginning of time, this has been seen since the stone age, of which man lived in caves painting the walls with animals. Anthropologists have also suggested that man covered himself with paint whether it be for ritual, religious or spiritual purposes. Women from Yemen use intricate designs made from henna for marriage, ritual or religious purposes as decoration. 

Another way of marking the skin was through scarification. Tattoos have also been found preserved on skin through mummification, dating from the 5th century in Siberia. Tattoos are formed from a similar process to scarification but by inserting dye under the skin. In New Zealand, Maori Tattoos were were often featured on the face with decorations in order to show rank or status within the tribe or community.

Also throughout history slaves were tattooed with their owners names on their forehead or arms. Much in the same way convicts and criminals (mainly in France) were branded with a symbol to show the crime they committed, (for example, V= thief, M = beggar). Military and sailors would somewhat gather a collection of tattoos acting as a souvenir of places visited and also a sign of occupation. 

Tattoos are still still popular in today’s society, not necessarily for identification, but also for the novelty or remembrance or dedication to an occupation, person, or even wants and desires. 

Face masks were also a form of decoration, in order to show identification, rank or status. Masks were and still are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Africa. Picasso ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avigon’ was clearly influenced by primitive art particularly African masks. This painting used the African mask as a way of depersonalising and de-constructing the face through geometric forms. Picassos ladies of avigon (red light district) were prostitutes, the use of the mask might be seen as a form of savagery. 

Fresco – La Parisienne (Crete 1500 BC) used rouge on lips and cheeks and black lining on eyes. This form of face masking was used to enhance and beautify the body. Make up is also used in theatre to represent a particular role or character in many different cultures which is still strongly evident in today’s society. This can also be seen in clowns, famous clowns had specific make up designs when a clown died this make up would be passed onto a younger clown. Make up still continues to be an important factor in western cultures to beautify and enhance oneself. Whereas indigenous cultures use it for the opposite reason, more for ritual and religious purposes. 

Just like fashion, skin markings are important to demonstrate the superiority of culture and distinguishing oneself from animals. Also highlighting the differentiation from other people including position (within a tribe/society), social hierarchy, age gender and or rank. 

References – 

African Masks- 
The Art of the African Mask, Exhibition Cataloge, Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia 

Cave Paintings and Rock art – 

Clown make up 

Fresco – La Parisienne,__La_Parisienne___Fresco,_c__1600.36.aspx 

Picasso ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avigon’‘Avignon 

Picasso African Art period 

New Zealand – Maori Tattoos 



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