Spectacular BodiesBMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7270.1230 (Published 11 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1230
- Simon Grant, art critic for Evening Standard and Independent on Sunday
The Art and Science of the Human Body from Leonardo to Now
Hayward Gallery, London, until 14 January
A crucified figure hangs limp from a simple wooden cross. The flesh looks sinewy and pale. The face is gaunt and lifeless. This is not a painting but an anatomical work of art, made in 1801 by the royal academician Thomas Banks. The artist used the body of a criminal to make a plaster cast. Originally intended as a study to show how muscles sag under gravity, Anatomical Crucifixion has since become an iconic image showing how art and science were once happy bedfellows.
If you saw this in the hallowed halls of a medical college you might rationally marvel …