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Visible and Visionary

Dreaming anatomy in modernity

By 1800, anatomy had been defined as a science—the investigation of the real—rather than an art. Anatomy could no longer tolerate humor, fancy, and ornament. Yet fantastic images of the anatomical body continued to proliferate. Cast out of medical illustration, imaginative anatomy found new homes: in academic art, where anatomy was an important part of the curriculum; in popular health, where the need to appeal to the public, and a free hand, inspired the creation of vivid, playful, and eccentric images; and in political cartoons, film, and fiction—wherever anatomical images could be made to serve.

Anatomia per uso et intelligenza del disegno ricercata... Bernardino Genga and Charles Errard Elementi di anatomia by Francesco Bertinatti and Mecco Leone

In our time, photography, radiography, digital imaging, and computer modeling have multiplied the possibilities for manipulation and play. Artists and scientists are again exploring and re-imagining the body, and investigating the boundaries between their respective disciplines. We continue to dream the anatomical body.


Next Section: Dissection Scenes and Fancies
Dreaming Art Anatomy
The People's Anatomy

Dreaming the Industrial Body
Reuniting the Divided Self
Visible Human


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Last updated: 8 March 2004