A major new exhibition entitled The Body. Art and Science will open this spring at the Nationalmuseum. The exhibition will show works portraying or dealing with the body from the Renaissance up to the present day. There are anatomical drawings of the body – both inside and out – studies of live models, magnificently illustrated medical treatises, wax casts, sculptures, paintings and installations. Visitors will be able, for example, to study Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings in parallel with Lennart Nilsson's unique photographs of the human organism, a contemporary installation by Mona Hatoum or works by Louise Bourgeois and Marc Quinn.
The exhibition shows old and new side by side and the way in which they are displayed heightens our sense of wonder, fascination, delight or disgust. The Body. Art and Science has been created in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute and the Hagströmer Library. It is the first exhibition of this type to be produced in Sweden.
The human body has always proved a fascinating subject for study by artists and scientists. Our exhibition looks at how people have sought to understand and to create an image of the outside and the inside of the human body over the last five centuries. The thirst for knowledge has gone hand in hand with making images of the body both artistically and scientifically. Examples of the interplay between art and science are manifold.
Books of anatomical drawings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were frequently the result of close collaboration between a physician and an artist. The human skeletons and models exposing the muscles of the body maintain poses or gestures borrowed from the sculptures of classical antiquity or from other appropriate works of art. Sometimes the background, too, is reminiscent of classical landscape painting. In turn, the expertise of anatomists was highly valued by the academies of fine arts and their schools. Ever since the Renaissance and right up into the 1950s pupils at the academies made studies of crania and other parts of the human skeleton. There are examples of such work by Lena Cronqvist and Peter Dahl in our exhibition.
The Body. Art and Science is arranged thematically and it sheds light on how humans have defined themselves in a constant interplay between ideal and deviation from the ideal. Notions as to what is ideal, beautiful, normal, deviant or ugly are the result of cultural and social constructions that vary over time and place. Interest in these matters is not the exclusive preserve of art and science. A century or so ago people queued up outside the popular waxworks to view ultra-realistic models of medical freaks and there are examples of these in the exhibition.
Objects that have been central to the study of the human body both for artists and physicians are included in the theme of Laboratory and studio: a camera obscura, camera lucida and a model of the body's musculature. A number of close-up studies of the body are presented under headings such as Hand-eye-brain and Skin and bodily fluids.
A richly illustrated catalogue (280 pages) is being published in conjunction with the exhibition. This, too, has been produced in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute and the Hagströmer Library. The following authors have contributed essays on how, over the last five centuries, people have tried to understand and to create images of the body, both outside and in: Eva-Lena Bengtsson, Ove Hagelin, Måns Holst-Ekström, Solveig Jülich, Ingela Lind, Ulrika Nilsson, Karin Sidén, Mårten Snickare, Torsten Weimarck and Eva Åhrén Snickare. There is an English summary to the catalogue and the captions to the illustrations have been translated into English. The catalogue includes more than 300 full-colour illustrations as well as some twenty black and white reproductions.
Simultaneously with The Body. Art and Science, there will be an exhibition entitled Navel-gazing and Handpower in the MiniGallery on the ground floor. Six graduate students from Steneby Högskola will also display sculptures on the theme of the body in the Nationalmuseum's glazed entrance lobby.
teacher in Anatomy 1755-1815),
Antonio Serrantoni (artist).
universae icones, Pisa,