Contemporary art and the ethics of anatomy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The ethics of anatomy bears on the ways in which we present and behold human bodies and human remains, as well as on the duties we have with regard to the persons whose bodies or body parts are presented. Anatomy is also a mode of thought and of social organization. Following Merleau-Ponty's assertion that the human body belongs both to the particular and to the metaphysical, I contend that art's ways of rendering of the particular in human anatomy often bring into relief metaphysical and ethical insights relevant to clinical medicine. This paper discusses the art of Gideon Gechtman, Mary Ellen Mark, Shari Zolla, and Christine Borland. It considers the relationship of these artists to earlier artistic traditions and the implications of their work for contemporary medicine and the biopsychosocial paradigm. Andrew Wyeth, the Visible Male Project, the Isenheim Altarpiece by Grünewald, and an anonymous Dutch Baroque portrait are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-123
Number of pages20
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

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