Painted Bodies. Living Art.

Fine Art Body Painting by Christopher Agostino

“Ancient Derain Dancer”

I firmly believe that bodypainting is an art, as valid as any other visual art, and I have maybe 125,000 years of human history backing me up. Anthropologists tell us that we were our own first works of art, before we ever painted a cave wall we painted ourselves. And as ancient humans first began to create art, why wouldn’t they paint themselves? Bodypainting is the most fundamental transformation of the human form, and art is all about transformation, about re-creating life through an artist’s unique vision. If to create art is to imitate/analyze life—to create a new, idiosyncratic view of life—then what of bodypainting, in which the art we create is itself alive?

“The Poetry of Creation”

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LEARN ABOUT:   Live Painting & Event Decoration •••    Makeup for Photographers, Video, Dance  •••  Bodies Alive!  Painted Body Shows   •••    Blacklight UV Special Effects   •••  Demonstrations/Classes  •••  

and Before Cave Walls…the story on our skin

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••••   Touching Ancient Sources    ••••

At the core of my approach to bodypainting is my continuing exploration into its traditional sources and cultural functions. Just as a painter on canvas studies the masterpieces of the past to find his own way forward, I study the images and significance of traditional bodyart as a foundation for my work. Searching for an understanding of how and why we paint ourselves leads back to the origins of our humanity and our most ancient art. Whenever I paint someone I am aware of my small place in this vast tradition, one more human seeking to understand how our art can transform us. Although bodypainting is ephemeral, its legacy is timeless.



••••   The Modern Primitive Art Series   ••••

Photographic prints of fine art bodypainting, available for sale and for gallery exhibitions.



Beginning in 2008, I have been engaged in painting a series of bodies to be shown in life-sized photographs at a gallery exhibition, as if they were paintings on canvas.

13 paintings are completed, with plans for as many more.

In the writings from and about the early 20th century—when European Art re-invented itself as Modern Art—we can see that the influence of “primitive” art ran deeper than the identifiable visual elements from cultural sources such as African and tribal art in the works of many influential artists.  The role of art as an integral component within the social and spiritual life of traditional communities was an inspiration for these artists in their effort to reinvigorate the transformative power of art. Picasso, amongst others, discussed a desire to make a new powerful type of art that would effect the viewer and society, an art that could no longer be experienced solely as an aesthetic act but which provoked a powerful response in the viewer. I see a parallel in the presentation of fine art painted bodies in American culture today—an act that can be seen as shocking even though it is based in truly ancient human tradition.

Bodyart is a fundamental human art in all cultures—and quite probably the original act of art itself—and as such it is the initiating source of many visual art concepts. By combining the images of modern 20th century artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Derain and Klee with the body designs of traditional cultures that influenced them, I am returning this art to its source. By painting these works of art on a living, naked human to be seen in public I am striving, as did those early modern artists, to create an art that draws attention and demands a personal, emotional response from the viewer.

As I bring the images and concepts of modern artists back onto the body within the context of traditional bodyart designs I am experiencing a re-creation of this seminal moment in art history through my personal art tradition as a bodypainter. In the actual painting process I feel I am struggling to discover, understand and achieve a new way to paint on my chosen canvas just as I imagine that the modern masters felt.

Presented in exhibit as life-sized photographs in the manner of paintings, how will the viewer respond to these works?  Will they see these works as “paintings” or as “body paintings”? Is this within the tradition of the contemporary artist—the tradition I am part of by birth and culture—or is this confined by the medium to be an imitation of cultural folk art?  Is this art? Is this fine art?









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•••••  Other Work   •••••

The Poetry of Creation


“The truth is: I do not know…I seek…I have not yet found.” 

— Fellini’s alter-ego, from 8 1/2

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••••••   Women In Trees   ••••••

#6 from Women In Trees series, November 2011 — photographs by Lorraine Zeller-Agostino during filming of “When Leaves Fall/Women In Trees” video project by Sarah Vasilas


The final foto of the Women In Trees series

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2 comments on “Bodies

  1. Wauw christopher, that is a nice collection of your bodypaints.You always inspire me. Love Jacklyn

  2. Cyndi says:

    Wow great body painting! What did you use for the stream shot? It doesn’t wash off?

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