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Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

From the #HistoryOfUs series: Muskelmann (L’Ecorché), late 1700s  

You're striving for the perfect body... But just how far would you go?

The sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon once went to Rome to study Michelangelo and ancient ideals. He combined it with his own obsession with realism, and produced one of the finest sculpted Ecorché of its era.

Chin up, abdominals tensed, Smartphone held up with an outstretched arm – at first glance the sculpture looks like one of those classic selfie poses taken by fitness studio fetishists to show off their beautiful body builder’s muscles.

But this is something else entirely.

This sculpture is what’s known as an ‘écorché’, an anatomical study of male musculature. You have to imagine it without the skin (the French écorcher means ‘to flay’) displaying the muscles and tendons underneath in all their glory. Ouch!

Jean-Antoine Houdon was a master of sculpture, able to capture the human form in astonishing detail with lifelike fidelity. This particular piece was his first great masterpiece, which was used as a reference by many other artists.

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#HistoryOfUs series

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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