Marcelo Lima, Anatomical study, charcoal on paper, 40 x 60 cm
Why should the artist who is interested in the representation of the human figure study anatomy? Why not be content with the external appearance of the body? After all, this is what matters in art. Why does the artist need to study the internal, that is the hidden, the "non-apparent" elements of the body? Precisely to be able to understand what forms the appearance that is the subject of the artist interest and effort. That is, knowing the structure and articulation of the human figure will lead the artist to know what to look for when drawing from the model, what to select and register in order to convey the workings of the human body, its formal and expressive possibilities related to the its structural components and functional elements.
How thorough must be the figurative artist´s knowledge of anatomy? Specific goals, interests and experience will tell. What constitutes basic or sufficient knowledge will certainly vary according to specific needs, aims and experience. As with any discipline, you can only tell how much you need to know for specific goals by knowing "more than you need", that is by exploring the field guided at first simply by your own curiosity and capacity to learn. The capacity to use knowledge is secondary to knowledge itself, something that the "pragmatists" of education nowadays, displaying their own ignorance and bad faith, try hard to make people forget.
The following link will direct the reader to a video course for biology students on Functional Anatomy at the University of California at Berkeley:
Integrative Biology 131: General Human Anatomy. Fall 2005. Professor Marian Diamond. The functional anatomy of the human body as revealed by gross and microscopic examination.