Book Review: Stonehouse's Anatomy by Jeonghyun Seok

Jeonghyun Seok (or Seok Jung Hyun) is a South Korean illustrator with credentials and achievements too long for me to list. Stonehouse's Anatomy is a 660-page thick softcover anatomy instructional book authored by him and published by Superani.

This book was originally published in 2017 in Korean and the English translated edition came out in 2020. The price of this book is US $80 not inclusive of shipping. Here in Singapore it's sold for SGD 129 at Basheer Graphic Books. There's also a Chinese edition.

Jeonghyun Seok has worked 9 years on this book and made nearly 1500 illustrations. The amount of detail shown is incredible so it's easy to understand why it took so long to create this book.

This book is comprehensive and covers the human anatomy from top to bottom. That includes the head and facial features, facial expressions, body and parts, bones and muscles, gestures, body language and movement. The anatomy drawings are realistic and the comic drawings are stylised like Japanese or Korean manga.

The illustrations are accompanied by text explaining anatomy and how they work. You'll get to learn how bone protrusions and cavities work together, difference muscle shapes and how they work, why the legs of dogs are bent, how rig cage moves during CPR and more. The text is written in a conversational and engaging manner with some humor. I'm not sure how accurate the translation is though but there are some typos.

When this book came out, there was some controversy because people claimed the book has elements of sexism, misogyny, racism, bigotry and generalisation. Below are some of the pages highlighted by other reviews. Click for a larger view.

Page 32 has a drawing of a short and stout Eskimo in traditional Eskimo clothes with a spear in hand, and beside is a thin black hunter type wearing some sort of underwear and has a spear in hand.

On page 75 and 81, author mentioned Asian eyes are smaller, and that Westerners enjoy eye contact during conversations while Asian feel uncomfortable.

On page 93 and 94, there's explanation for why nose length differ for people from different continents.

Pages 340 and 341 shows how arm movements can make one look more feminine or masculine.

Pages 482 and 483 talk about facial features and body types that are considered beautiful.

What's my take?

Just because a caricature is drawn does not mean the author implied that certain groups of people can only look and behave that way. Just because there's mention that Asians have small eyes does not mean all Asians have small eyes. Do ladies in real world run around with arms tucked in (page 341) like in anime or manga? No. People have differences in race, colour, body type, body shapes, facial features, behavior and the way they speak. I think people are reading too much into negative meanings that are not supposed to be there.

The author explains how figures can be drawn to look more masculine, heroic, sexy, girly, etc and that is his take with his artistic license for whatever aesthetic reasons. You don't have to draw your character the way the author draws his. Whether you see a character as an archetype or stereotype is your choice. You can just draw our human figures with realistic proportions like the many featured in the book.

Maybe the author should have a footnote for the woke crowd saying not all people look like the caricatures drawn.

The more problematic areas are opinions mixed with facts. And that's why it's good to read more widely so that you can differentiate facts from opinions.

To conclude, this is a great anatomy book for artists. It's expensive but worth the money considering the amount of content you get.

If you find this book offensive, wait till you see what's in Kim Jung Gi's sketchbooks, also from the same publisher.

You can check out more reviews listed below for more opinions on Stonehouse's Anatomy.………

If you want recommendations for less controversial anatomy books, check out this list of anatomy book's I've reviewed.

Book availability:

Here are the other preview pages:

This is a great book IMHO. I got my copy a couple of years ago.

A perfect companion book for this is 'Figure Drawing - Design and Invention' by Michael Hampton.

This pair of books is a solid comprehensive resource for illustration.

woke crowd? unfortunate choice of words from your side. you won't miss me ofc, but unsubscribing.

"Among conservatives, woke has come to be used primarily as an insult.[2][26][45] In this pejorative sense, woke means "following an intolerant and moralising ideology".[16] British journalist Steven Poole comments that the term is used to mock "overrighteous liberalism".[46] Romano says that on the American right, "'woke' – like its cousin 'canceled' – bespeaks 'political correctness' gone awry".[2]

Opponents of progressive social movements often use the term mockingly or sarcastically,[2][47] implying that "wokeness" is an insincere form of performative activism.[2][45] Such critics often believe that movements such as Black Lives Matter exaggerate the extent of social problems.[47] Linguist and social critic John McWhorter argues that the history of woke is similar to that of politically correct, another term once used self-descriptively by the left which was appropriated by the right as an insult, in a process similar to the euphemism treadmill.[48]

Great review.

I'm commenting because Mr Martin, who won't see this as he's unsubscribed, decided he wanted to try and educate you on what choice of words you should use.

Funny how we're all reading your blog and not his...

I'm pretty surprised that you've written off the racialized caricature that featured in this book. This is why studying art history and visual representation is so important. Even if we could set aside every other example instance people took issue with, the fact that this form of racism isn't a true representation of black people (which...obviously, caricatures are not realist?) and is only an "opinion," doesn't make it less of an issue.

I mean c'mon, *stink lines*? That makes it excessively clear the caricature is saying something negative about smell/hygiene/unpleasantness. Racist caricatures are racist *because* they're negative racial stereotypes that are highly exaggerated and not representative of all people of x or y race.

It's also an image that is the epitome of antiblack racial caricature. To quote from the Jim Crow Museum website discussing the "savage" stereotype:

>Old themes about African-Americans began to well up in the face of the perceived threat. Beliefs that blacks were "mentally inferior, physically and culturally unevolved, and apelike in appearance" (Plous & Williams, 1995, p. 795) were supported by prominent white figures like Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Thomas Jefferson. Theodore Roosevelt publicly stated that "As a race and in the mass [the Negroes] are altogether inferior to whites" (Plous & Williams, 1995, p. 796). The ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica published in 1884 stated authoritatively that "...the African race occupied the lowest position of the evolutionary scale, thus affording the best material for the comparative study of the highest anthropoids and the human species" (Plous & Williams, 1995, p. 795). This idea of African-Americans as apelike savages was exceptionally pervasive. For example, in 1906, the New York Zoological Park featured an exhibit with an African-American man and a chimpanzee. Several years later, the Ringling Brothers Circus exhibited "the monkey man," a black man was caged with a female chimpanzee that had been trained to wash clothes and hang them on a line (Plous & Williams, 1995).


>Scientific studies were conducted to establish the proper place of the African-American in society. Scientists conducted tests and measurements and concluded that blacks were savages for the following reasons: "(a) The abnormal length of the arm...; (b) weight of brain... [Negro's] 35 ounces, gorilla 20 ounces, average European 45 ounces; (c) short flat snub nose; (d) thick protruding lips; (e) exceedingly thick cranium; (f) short, black hair, eccentricity elliptical or almost flat in sections, and distinctly woolly; and (g) thick epidermis" (Plous & Williams, 1995, p. 796).

That drawing is point for point matching claims made by eugenics studies. That's not being woke to say so, it's just being aware of the history of image and representation.

I'd even go further and argue the author's) badly researched scientific claims passed as opinion, plus their layouts imitating 19th century scientific racism/phrenology texts -- suggests that the book's understanding of anatomy and the science behind human form and appearance is specious at best.

That's not even an issue of "wokeness." It's an issue of easily debunked racial science from the 1800's that teaches bad foundations for anatomy. There may be some useful drawings, but there's dozens of better anatomy books out there for less than $80 USD.

If the racism isn't enough to warn off such a pricey book as being a quality and low-education value issue, then...well, what is?

PleasedAsPunchW.. Got nothing to say but :-) :-) :-)

Anyhow, thanks Parka for a good review, even though I'm still not sure about this book.

I have Stonehouse's Anatomy in the English version since April. They've thankfully deleted some of the more obviously racist content. I don't want to open this huge can of worms further than it was already opened here, but it has to be said, respectfully, that I can not agree with the sentiment that people should just "get over it". This is a book about art education that is supposedly based on scientific discovery, and I frequently found the scientific facts to be plainly wrong. This becomes especially obvious when Stonehouse describes a whole lot of supposedly 'natural' 'biological' feminine traits that can only be found in the Asian world. It's a beautiful book, and although I didn't find its content to be as helpful as I'd hoped, it's a great addition to my art instruction shelf. But this book is as flawed as Gottfried Bammes' "Gestalt des Menschen", where the GDR's horrible state ideology often just pours out. These flaws are inherent to the work. You remove the flaws, you destroy the work. Nobody wants that. Of course you can continue to use and enjoy these art instruction books, and I frequently do, but to ignore their problematic stances is the definition of dilletantism. With great artistic power and knowledge comes great responsibility. Don't ignore these problems, understand them, talk about them, acknowledge them. Only then can we take from this book what it was meant for, by the author, in the first place.

Good to know that you have your head screwed on tight.

May you get three regular readers for every reader who decided to stop visiting your blog for your reasonable and innocuous comments.

I will continue to visit your blog and place value on your comments, for sure.

In reply to by Desiree (not verified)


For your logic to be consistent, you probably want everyone to consider traditional Japanese depictions of themselves - with slit eyes - to be racist caricatures.

Here's an example (from Kuniyoshi, a master of ukiyo-e woodblock prints):

While you might be able to convince a few Westerners it is a racist depiction, good luck convincing the Japanese that their traditional artwork feature racist caricatures of themselves.

In reply to by João Martins (not verified)

Kind of funny how you act exactly the same as the description you just pasted.
"You used a word I don't like therefore I won't ever read anything you have to say EVER AGAIN!!!!"

How tolerant you are.

Only the woke mob is stupid enough to get offended by this book. No one in Korea cared, that's for sure.

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