Create and Curate Essay

Pages: 6 (1727 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Anatomy

Anatomy is the branch of biology and medicine that is the study of the structure of living things. It is divided into gross (or macroscopic) and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy is the study of anatomical structures that are relatively obvious to the naked eye; and microscopic those that require artificial assistance from microscopes, etc. Microscopic anatomy often focuses on cellular anatomy, while gross anatomy on larger structures within the body. Historically, the history of anatomy has gone through a number of paradigm changes over the years, beginning with serious scientific studies of human and animal anatomy during the Classical Greek age, through the banning of the study during the European pre-Enlightenment period, to modern methods that utilize computer aided topography to map and explain anatomical functions without dissection. In any case, knowledge of anatomical structures is extremely important within the study of any branch of medicine. Physicians and veterinarians must know the position and function of major organ systems in order to adequately diagnose, treat, and most certainly to operate on a live individual. Because generalities do not always adequately describe the actual position or pathology of organs, and even while computer models are extremely helpful in providing an understanding of systems, there is no substitute for hands on dissection and study of anatomy in preparation for a medical career (Saladin, pp.2-3).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Create and Curate Assignment

However, it is not just medical science that remains fascinated by the human form, the idea of what flesh or issues dealing with human flesh can demonstrate. For millennium, artists have been inspired by the human body and, for some, not just surface anatomy, but detailed studies of form and function. It is interesting that both fields sometimes influenced each other -- the more detailed medical science became, the more detailed and specific art followed anatomical issues. And, it was not just the study of nude models or cadavers that inspired artists, but simply watching people move, and in the modern world cross sections, CT scans, and MRI imagining (Goldfinger). That the artist mentality can explore and experience of anatomy and that this topic can evolve from the primitive form of many of the Venus figurines of the pal eolithic world to the parody and what some see as obscene in the Works of Damaso and the cross sectional project are but a testament to the real power of this theme. When viewing the theme of art and anatomy over time, one is struck with an almost overriding sense that the artist and the philosopher are searching for similar answers -- what indeed makes us human?

The Search for Humanity -- Anatomy and Art Through Time -- We will organize our collection chronologically and focus, for the purposes of this study, on six works of art that either focus on anatomy, or focus on anatomy and are specifically dealing with the subject:






40,000 BCE

Venus of Hohle Fels


Oldest undisputed example of upper Paleolithic art; housed at University of Tubingen


+/- 450 BCE

Discobolus of Myron


Example of high Greek sculpture, movement, and anatomical correctness. Housed at the British Museum, copies in most major European museums


Vitruvian Man

Leonardo da Vinci

Pen and Ink drawing depicting ideal proportions. Housed in the Gallerie dell-Academia in Venice.


Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp


Stunning use of color and tone to depict an uncommon scenario. Housed in the Hague, Netherlands.


Anatomia universale

Paolo Mascagni

Art studied anatomy using medical experiment, life sized work and blurs the line between art and science. New York: Private collection



Mandela Autopsy

Yiull Damaso

Pastiche to earlier works; highly controversial and politicized' housed in Johannesburg, SA

Part 1 -- The Venus of Hohle Fels -- The term "Venus Figurines" is a generic terms for any number of prehistoric statuettes that share common fertility traits (large breasts, obese, or pregnancy). Most seem to be from the upper Paleolithic Period, found stretching from Western Europe through Siberia. The figures were card from stone, bone, ivory, or formed from clay and fired as a ceramic. As a group, they are some of the earliest known works of art from prehistory. While the exact meanings may never be known, most scholarship sees them as emblems of fertility r success, or the direct representation of the Mother Earth goddess. They are typically found in the context of settlements, rarely in burial caves or mounds (Sanders).

The Venus of Hohle Fels is one of the oldest dated figurines and is assumed to be part of the Cro-Magnon tradition. It was sculpted from a woolly mammoth tusk and, found with it from the same tusk, a flute. It is detailed enough to represent hundreds of hours of carving and embodies most of the characteristics of the genre (Maugh).

Part 2 -- The Discobolus of Myron -- Completed at the end of the Severe period around 450-460 BCE, we know of this bronze sculpture only through Roman copies. This, though, is one of the prime examples of creating athletic energy, but also of the rhythm and balance of the human body. Modern critics say the pose is unnatural and a rather inefficient way to throw the discus. The face, though, is devoid of emotion while the tight pose, very common in the sculptures of Greece, is classic. It is interesting, though, that the musculature of the body is so well depicted, but the torso shows no muscular strain. It is, however, the body that is art -- the anatomy makes the symmetry (Palagia).

Part 3 -- The Vitruvian Man - This pen and ink on paper drawing, depicting a male nude with two superimposed positions, has become almost iconic as a symbol of Leonardo da Vinci. It is also known as the "Canon of Proportions," and is based on the correlation of human anatomy and geometric principles from the Roman Vitrivius, who wrote about architecuture, but believed the principle source of proportion was still of the human body. The piece is indicative of the manner in which art and science merged during the Renaissance, with the idea that this drawing was more of a grand cosmology that represented the way the human body (anatomy) represented the workings of the universe as a whole. In modern times it is used as on the Italian Euro, Skylab's patch, and in art and science as the idea of "man being a measure of all things" (Pastorello).

Part 4- The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp - While the focus of the "lesson" is, of course, the anatomical view of the cadaver, it does not seem to really be the point of the portrait. Essentially, this is not really an "anatomy" lesson, for the body is clearly still intact; instead, it seems as if Dr. Tulp is more focused on the mechanics of the body (the muscles) in that the clue to the painting is the Doctor's hand, the forceps, and the action that his use of the forceps is causing. One of Rembrandt's gifts was the suggestion of movement, and this clearly shows, not only in the balance of the audience, but the thrust and focal point of the cadaver's hand. This also combines art and science, who could imagine such a gory scene as part of their living room art, yet the gory nature of the subject was really more about a new way of looking realistically at the body than the topic itself (Heckscher; Iipma).

Part 5 -- Anatomia universal -- Mascagni was both a philosopher and student of medicine, and yet as an educated man of his time (1755-1815) he was trained in art, languages and the humanities. His folio of hand-colored anatomical plates are a true combination of art and science, and follow the manner in which the Greeks studied anatomy, the Renaissance (Da Vinci) looked at proportions, how the Classicists used realism to project tone and timbre, and now how the drawings of his own unique view of the human form combine with an artistic endeavor to become less macabre and more aesthetically pleasurable. Interesting as well is that the artistic contribution of this piece actually had a remarkable influence on the way anatomy was viewed in the 19th century (Eimas).

Part 6 -- Mandela Autopsy -- This is a modern work, done within the last year, and extremely controversial. It is a parody of Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson, with South African activist and then President Nelson Mandela as the patient; with spectators Archbishop Desmond Tutu and politicians from both sides of the Afrikaans / South African Debate. The artist noted that it was anatomical in nature because the country, and the world, needed to understand that Mandela, too, would sometime die. He used anatomy as a way to show that there is symmetry in life and art, and all the other politicians using science (anatomy) to figure out what made Mandela a great man and a great leader (Smith). This almost completes the circle, because while not as detailed as… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Create and Curate.  (2011, August 17).  Retrieved August 5, 2021, from

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"Create and Curate."  17 August 2011.  Web.  5 August 2021. <>.

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"Create and Curate."  August 17, 2011.  Accessed August 5, 2021.