Here’s how this week’s arts and culture piece begins:

“For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.”

–Psalm 139:13-14

“Flesh and Bones: The Art of Anatomy” runs through July 10 at the Getty Museum. Presented in both English and Spanish, the exhibit explores depictions of the anatomy of the human body from the Renaissance through today.

Included are anatomical images in a wide range of media, from Renaissance illustrations featuring delicate paper flaps that could be lifted to reveal the body’s inner structure, to drawing, engravings, woodcuts, mezzotint, sculpture, painting, and neon.  

For centuries, artists were expected to have a firm grounding in anatomy; the structure of the human body was of paramount importance in both science and art. In fact, anatomists often hired their own personal artists in order to sketch the body quickly before decomposition set in.

Such an artist might focus on a specific area of the body: say, the muscles of the neck or eyelid. An abdominal dissection might spotlight details of the gall bladder.


2 Replies to “FLESH AND BONES”

  1. A brilliant piece, fascinating. I was especially taken by your favoring the earlier images over the later technologically produced one, being more evocative and suggesting evidence of a a real spiritual connection.
    Maybe a bridge too far, but I am put in mind of the work of the J Dilla and the phenomenon come to be known as Dilla time, musics ostensibly produced and reproduced technologically, but the “music machines” used by Jay Dee in a mode with the “quantize” function turned off, and the music therefore become “humanized,” the effect seized on and celebrated and appreciated and used by those, initially, with the ears and background and sophistication to be so startled into something old made completely new, a world of expression other-worldly and free. Maybe this a bridge too far, which are perhaps the ones not to be missed.
    Dilla Time, Dan Charnas.

    Thank you for this wonderful essay and all the others.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Lawrence, many thanks for this! Hiphop is a world with which I am ENTIRELY UNFAMILIAR–but I looked up J Dilla and listened a bit on Spotify. I liked this instrumental, “Timeless.” And you don’t need to be a musicologist, as you are, to “get” and appreciate that Jay Dee was trying to do–did–something human and new and startling and strange with the music he loved (you articulated it so much better…). So if this is a “bridge too far” for some of us, it won’t be for all of us. And it’s a treat to get a glimpse into the breadth of your knowledge and interests. As always, deep gratitude for the support, and for sharing.