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Anatomy Art and the Anatomy of Body Language

Shapes of the Body and How Anatomy Art Speaks to the World

Ashley Davidoff MD Copyright 2015



Shape more than any other component morphological descriptors plays an all encompassing part in our lives.  In this blog, with the help of anatomy art, we focus on how the body and its parts reflect mood, emotions, and thought for example. Body language is the expression of inner thoughts and feelings and manifests in the way the body projects to the outside world.  These shapes are seen in our day to day behavior and are exaggerated in the performing and visual arts. When we recognize this language in the arts – it sends chills and provides  “penny drop” appreciation.


Shapes en Pointe in Dance 

This piece expresses a mood of elegance and refinement of a company of classical ballet dancers.  The shape and position of their bodies is captured in a single moment in time balanced on their toes.  As they flex and extend infinite number of muscle fibers, controlled by an equally infinite number of nerve pulses, balancing one bone on the other, they create a shape to be admired and appreciated.  We know and love this form and they know exactly what to do to recreate the familiar shape.

Body – not too round, nor too thin, but just right

The amount of fat in the subcutaneous tissues gives us a shape that portrays our bodies as obese, normal, thin or cachectic. The simple external shape of our bodies  portrays to the outside world something about us.

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Body Language of the Fat in the Body

This anatomy art piece depicts the optimal size and shape of the body exemplified in the chest and abdomen (right image) in contrast to the image on the left which demonstrates obesity, and the middle image which shows cachexia or extreme wasting seen in debilitating conditions.

When we see the shapes of hurt in people we love, or hurt through misfortune, we can help through action, and without promoting further hurt by wasted words.  This ability to read between the lines is part of the advancing human experience and maturation.  On the other hand when we see shapes that may endanger, a sixth sense, can be life saving.

Body language as expressed in a variety of shapes allows connection with other people, or even with animals who can sense the demeanor of a person through posture.  A simple smile, a wave of a hand to a fellow stranger, immediately creates a connection.


The Girl with the Shy Smile

This art piece  expresses an emotion of conflict combining shyness with a little pride and smile for being chosen for the attention of the artist  The body language expressed through the tilt of the head and eyesshape of the smile  reflects a well recognized pattern enabling the audience to read the emotions of this child.  The emotion she projects allows us also to age her maturity level. The body language is appropriate for a child, and for some late bloomers it may even go to the early 20’s, but would be rare in a late 20’s adult. The mood creates innumerable excitations of muscles and nerves to create an overall shape that reflects her psyche.



The Shy Girl Now Says “Leave Me Alone”

This anatomy art piece expresses an emotion of mild frustration and a little anger with the artist.  It was was photographed immediately after the The Shy Smile and reveals a more confident primal anger emerging – and the “little girl” with her defiance emerges to equalize the playing field.  The body language expressed through the tilt of the head depth of focused eyesshape of the slightly pursed lips says “Leave Me Alone“.

Body Shapes of Attraction


Shape of Romance

“Nerves on Edge – Shapes of Romance” expresses a mood of commitment of two people floating in their own world in the middle of the night under a full moon .  The shape and position of their bodies is captured in a single moment of time.  The eye contact, mouth contact and tilt of the heads, and their almost intertwined bodies speaks much about their feelings for each other.   The observer can easily predict the next page in this chapter.

Intimacy of the Pulmonary and Arteries and Pulmonary Veins

The AiA rendering uses the implied microscopic capillary connections in the pulmonary circulation and gives the intimacy a human context.  The artistic rendering  shows the delicate connections between the arteries and veins of the lungs. Using the eye contact and the shapes of the structures creates a body language of romance similar, but not as explicit, when compared to the image above.

The Other End of the Spectrum

Rounded or drooped shoulders communicates a lack of confidence, an inwardness that prevents people from connecting with the individual.  On the other hand a simple directed smile, may start a connection for life.

Shape of Loneliness


Alone in Duet

This anatomy art piece expresses a mood of profound loneliness of two people standing side by side .  The shape and position of their still bodies (without motion = emotion) and  rounded shoulders staring at a blank wall expresses a sorrowful isolation and solitude despite their being together.  They have very similar appearances – almost like two positive forces or for that matter two negative forces that find no bond or attraction for each other.  Either way the shared loneliness in juxtaposition may provide some comfort for the viewer.

Shape of Loneliness on the Street

This art piece expresses a mood of profound loneliness showing a homeless man sleeping on a cement step in the middle of the day.  The body language associated with his disheveled clothing, dirty hands, hiding from the world in sleep, expresses a sorrowful isolation and solitude.

Shape of the Body in Time


Shape of Old Age

“Shape of Osteoporosis and Time” expresses the effect of time and weak bones.  The shape of the spine assumes an exaggerated kyphosis and expresses a sorrow  and heartfelt empathy for the effect of the disease on the afflicted.  They holds their drooped heads with a mood of no hope of return to the proud appearing person they used to be.  The CT scan shows the bones of the thoracic spine even more exaggerated than that of the old couple.


Shapes of Pure Joy

This Art piece  expresses a mood of profound happiness showing a young boy, eyes sparkling and upward looking. mouth open with a smile of awe and hands clenched in ecstasy.  The body language expressed through the shape of his body reflects unencumbered purity of emotion and outward intensity – so easy for children – and so difficult for adults.  


Shape of Faith

This art piece  expresses a mood of profound faith showing a woman in deep prayer resting her hand and chin on the bible as she kneels in prayer and humility.  The body language associated with the purity of emotion and inward intensity is poignant to the observer.  The black and white format provides an element of simple honesty.

This blog and associated body of work explores some of the innumerable ways that the shape of the body or body parts reflect an emotion, thought, mood, habit,or a story and thus concludes “Shapes of the Body and How It Speaks to the World”

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