Libri di Desmond Morris - libri Johan & Levi Editore

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Desmond Morris

author
Johan & Levi
Famous zoologist and ethologist as well as one of the best-known faces on British television. His numerous best-sellers on animal and human behaviour include The Naked Ape (1967), translated into 28 different languages, Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour (1978) and The Artistic Ape (2013). He lives in Oxford. His other great passion is painting and he is indeed one of the last surviving Surrealists with an oeuvre of over 2,500 works, the subject of 8 monographic studies, since 1948. Translations of his Lives of the Surrealists (2018) and Cats in Art (2018) have been published by Johan & Levi.

Author's books

An artist undertaking a portrait cannot but consider the pose to be given to the subject. Standing, sitting or reclining? What feelings will the expression convey? Will the arms be folded or busy performing some apotropaic rite? While a portrait unquestionably strikes us first and foremost for the quality of the painting and the sitter’s identity, every gesture, expression and posture of the body actually constitutes a key to a casket in which we can discover traces of the lifestyle of a particular historical period and legacies of cultures distant in time and space. And who could be better able than Desmond Morris to take up the challenge of recounting the history of body language in such a way as to delight the reader? Combining his two personae, the ethologist and Surrealist painter, he guides us on an extraordinary exploration of the postures that have attracted the attention of art lovers for centuries, from Roman statuary all the way to Pop Art. We thus discover why Napoleon was always portrayed hand-in-waistcoat and sovereigns often with one foot towards the viewer. And while it is true that gestures like shaking the fist are universal, sticking out the tongue out can be interpreted as a manifestation of demonic nature or simple childish impertinence depending on the period involved. With brilliant insight, Morris tells us how artists have given shape in their works to the changes involving social habits and conventions over the centuries. In doing so, he encounters surprising similarities and eternal recurrences, rediscovering long-forgotten gestures and shedding new light on masterpieces regarded as more familiar.
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In posa

L'arte e il linguaggio del corpo

Desmond Morris

pages: 320 pages

An artist undertaking a portrait cannot but consider the pose to be given to the subject. Standing, sitting or reclining? What feelings will the expression convey? Will the arms be folded or busy performing some apotropaic rite? While a portrait unquestionably strikes us first and foremost for the quality of the painting and the sitter’s identity
The cat – that most elegant, stubborn and artful of creatures – has been a subject favoured by artists of every culture and period since time immemorial. The spectacular stone carving created in Libya 7,000 years ago is possibly the earliest depiction of a cat fight, marking the beginning of a long uninterrupted visual tradition. A profusion of images that is not always matched by unequivocal sentiments for the cat which, while being among the most blessed of domestic animals, has often been a victim of hate and persecution over the centuries. From sacred animal in ancient Egypt to deterrent for rodents in the Babylonian civilization, an ally of man against the fatal bite of the viper, valued for its hunting prowess and immortalized as a good hunting companion, the cat gradually relinquished such practical activities to become the lazy friend of man, who opened the doors of his home to it. The cohabitation did not, however, last long and the relationship went through further ups and downs. At the end of the Middle Ages the prevalent image was as maleficent companion of the devil, a view that coincides with the sinister role allocated to it in paintings. It rarely, if ever, appears as protagonist in the work of the great masters but rather as a mere accessory, curled up at the feet of a female figure. It would have to wait for the arrival of Victorian sentimentalism before it could make a come-back, when this radical change in status saw it portrayed in intimate family scenes. This was the best time to be a cat, a golden age both for the affectionate relationship with its human companion and for the central role it played in works of art, where it is finally master of the scene. The greatest zoologist of our time, aware of every feline nuance, writes about history of art through the lens of cat-loving artists. For Pablo Picasso it was a symbol of ruthless violence, depicted as a fierce predator; for Balthus it was the supreme emblem of female sexuality; it was a very popular subject among cartoonists and caricaturists and used by Banksy as a vehicle for political protest.  The cat is an inexhaustible source for visual exploration and flights of fancy.
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I gatti nell'arte

Desmond Morris

pages: 224 pages

The cat – that most elegant, stubborn and artful of creatures – has been a subject favoured by artists of every culture and period since time immemorial. The spectacular stone carving created in Libya 7,000 years ago is possibly the earliest depiction of a cat fight, marking the beginning of a long uninterrupted visual tradition. A profusion of
Surrealism developed after the First World War, initially as a lifestyle rather than an actual artistic movement. Angered by an establishment that had made that massacre possible, the Surrealists came up with an unconscious strategy able to free humanity from the ties of reason and aesthetic conventions, restoring a central role to the dimension of dreams and eroticism through psychic automatism. From 1924 onwards, André Breton, the main theorist behind this doctrine, controlled the reins of an insolent group of intellectuals for over forty years. With its break-ups, mutinies and expulsions, this was one of the most fascinating and troubled artistic experiences of the 20th century. Desmond Morris held his first Surrealist solo exhibition in 1948. While he soon went on to become one of the most famous science writers of his generation, he frequented the irresistible personalities whose adventures are described here for many years. They included Roberto Matta, who had the name of the Marquis de Sade branded on him to find favour with Breton; Giacometti who turned down Marlene Dietrich (and her forty-four suitcases) for a prostitute, Caroline Tamagno, who was well-known in the Parisian underworld; Miró and Masson, forced by Hemingway to take one another on in a disastrous boxing match; Salvador Dalí in a diving suit, billiard cue at the ready and two greyhounds on the lead, as he performs in front of hundreds of journalists at the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936. Thirty-two eccentric stories that wind their way through the bistros of the ville lumière and the most incongruous places, such as London Zoo, before finally arriving in New York, where the first seeds of Abstract Expressionism begin to be sown. Following the kaleidoscopic proliferations of Surrealism embodied by extremely diverse artists, including Max Ernst, Picasso, Delvaux and Duchamp, Morris celebrates the intensity, delirium and mystery that, as Magritte would say, “cannot be explained, you just have to let it envelop you.”
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Le vite dei surrealisti

Desmond Morris

pages: 272 pages

Surrealism developed after the First World War, initially as a lifestyle rather than an actual artistic movement. Angered by an establishment that had made that massacre possible, the Surrealists came up with an unconscious strategy able to free humanity from the ties of reason and aesthetic conventions, restoring a central role to the dimension of
 

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