Imaging/Imagining the Human Body

Imaging Imagining exhibition - 3 images of handsThree-venue exhibition at the University of Chicago examines anatomical representation from artistic and scientific perspectives throughout history

March 25–June 20, 2014

A multi-venue exhibition curated by two physicians at the University of Chicago explores the history of anatomical representation and the evolving relationship between the arts and medical science. On view from March 25–June 20, Imaging/Imagining the Human Body in Anatomical Representation is jointly presented in three parts by the Special Collections Research Center (The Body as Text), Smart Museum of Art (The Body as Art), and The John Crerar Library (The Body as Data) in collaboration with the UChicago Arts|Science Initiative. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

The exhibition includes over 60 works in a variety of media—drawings, rare manuscripts, sculptures, engravings, and radiographic images—dating from the Renaissance to today. It features both imaginative depictions of the human figure made by artists as well as scientific images of the body, and traces the interplay of artistic and medical imaging throughout history.

“In popular perception, the artist depicts the human figure for aesthetic or expressive purposes, while scientific images of the body lay claim to objective representation,” write the curators, Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Mindy Schwartz, MD, Professor of Medicine, at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. “In fact, the story of anatomical representation is far more complex.”

As Imaging/Imagining reveals, early anatomical illustrations required close collaboration between anatomists and artists, illustrators, and engravers. These images reflected scientific conventions but were also weighted with aesthetic, social, political, and religious meaning. As anatomical images became more medicalized, the disciplines diverged. Following the advent of the X-ray at the turn of the twentieth century, the divide widened as new imaging technologies allowed medical practitioners to visualize the body as never before. At the same time, modernism and abstraction radically transformed artistic practice, which had for centuries emphasized the centrality of the well-drawn figure. Today, modern medical imaging continues to inform artists’ perceptions of the body while still relying in part on the subjective hand of an expert to manipulate and reinterpret layers of data into a visual form.

“A project like Imaging/Imagining transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries in a way that enriches our understanding,” said Julie Marie Lemon, Program Director and Curator of the Arts|Science Initiative in the Office of the Provost at the University of Chicago. “The exhibition is an example of the sort of sustained dialogue the Arts|Science Initative seeks to foster between artistic and scientific forms of inquiry within the University and beyond.”

The exhibition’s themes will be explored in greater depth through several public programs, notably the talk on Thursday, April 17 at 5 pm, “Seeing Into and Seeing Through: The Promise and Peril of Imaging” by Dr. Richard B. Gunderman, Professor of Radiology, Pediatrics, Medical Education, Philosophy, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, and Vice Chair of Radiology at Indiana University.

Exhibition Sections

Imaging/Imagining runs concurrently across three venues, each with a dedicated section that contributes to the larger themes of the exhibition.

Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Text

March 25–June 20, 2014
Special Collections Research Center, Joseph Regenstein Library, The University of Chicago, 1100 E. 57th Street
Monday–Friday, 9 am–4:45 pm; Saturdays, 9 am–12:45 pm (when University of Chicago classes are in session); closed Sunday

The Body as Text explores the history of anatomical representation from the Renaissance to the turn of the twentieth century. It features illustrated anatomic texts, like Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica and Henry Gray’s Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical, that map the body’s complex systems and functions, as well as prints, paintings, sculptures, drawings, and radiographs. The objects on view are drawn from the holdings of the Special Collections Research Center and the Smart Museum of Art.

Together, the works prompt viewers not only to examine the intent of the image makers and the intended function of the image but also to explore our contemporary understanding of the human body in the context of a broad history of anatomical representation and scientific progress.

The Body as Text is curated by Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Mindy Schwartz, MD, Professor of Medicine, at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, in collaboration with Catherine Uecker, Rare Books Librarian, Special Collections.

Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Art

March 25–June 22, 2014
Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm; Thursday until 8 pm; closed Monday

The Body as Art gathers images of the body from a range of historical periods and considers the extent to which they conform to established representational conventions or seem instead to reflect the artist’s own observations or expressive goals. It features works drawn from the Smart’s collection and the holding of the Special Collections Research Center. Highlights include figurative etchings; sculpture by Edgar Degas, Henry Moore, and Jacques Lipchitz; a cubist portrait by Jean Metzinger; prints by Otto Dix; and a sketchbook of watercolor drawings by Ivan Albright.

This section of the exhibition asks visitors to consider the enduring role of figure drawing in academic art study; the relation between artistic and scientific abstraction; the depiction of bodily suffering in wartime; and what art and medicine have to offer each other in the pursuit of accuracy, humanity, and empathy, when it comes to representing the body.

The Body as Art is curated by Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Mindy Schwartz, MD, Professor of Medicine, at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, in collaboration with Anne Leonard, Smart Museum Curator and Associate Director of Academic Initiatives.

The Body as Art is made possible by Smart Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment.

Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Data

March 25–June 20, 2014
The John Crerar Library, The University of Chicago, 5730 S. Ellis Avenue
Monday—Saturday, 9 am–4:30 pm; closed Sunday

The Body as Data examines the data revolution of modern medical imaging that has transformed anatomical representation and how we view the body. This data revolution occurred when the basic concepts behind x-ray technology combined with the capabilities of computers. The result is imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans that produce vast amounts of data which is then processed into modern anatomical representations.

These images often claim scientific neutrality and are viewed with a clinical gaze, yet they are more than objective and unaltered pictures of the body. They represent the body broken apart into bits of data that are then manipulated to produce a myriad of visually interpretable images. These images have in turn informed artists’ perceptions of the body and further pushed the boundaries of how we view the human form.

The Body as Data is curated by Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Mindy Schwartz, MD, Professor of Medicine, at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine in collaboration with Stephen Thomas, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology, and Adam Schwertner, fourth year medical student at the Pritzker School of Medicine, The University of Chicago.

Related Programs

Family Day: Ultrasounds, Exquisite Corpses

Saturday, April 5, 1–4 pm
Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue

Drop by the Smart for an afternoon of family-friendly art activities. Combine ultrasounds with the ultimate Surrealist parlor game to make exquisite corpse drawings from ultrasound images of your internal structures. The ultrasound machine will be operated by Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and co-curator of the exhibition Imaging/Imagining.*

Free. All materials provided. Activities are best for kids ages 4–12, accompanied by an adult.

*The purpose of the ultrasound demonstration at the Smart’s Family Day is educational only. The ultrasound machine is not being used for any medical or diagnostic purpose.

The Body in 3D

Thursday, April 17, 3–5 pm
The John Crerar Library, The University of Chicago, 5730 S. Ellis Avenue, Kathleen A. Zar Room

Drop by Crerar Library and watch a 3D video tour of the human body including the brain and other internal organs. Using images captured with contemporary medical scanning technologies this looping film will run every 5-10 minutes. 3D glasses will be provided.

Lecture: “Seeing Into and Seeing Through: The Promise and Peril of Imaging”

Thursday, April 17, 5 pm
Regenstein Library, The University of Chicago, 1100 E. 57th Street, room 122

Dr. Richard B. Gunderman, author of X-Ray Vision: The Evolution of Medical Imaging and its Human Significance, will explore the exhibition’s themes in a free public lecture. Dr. Gunderman is Professor of Radiology, Pediatrics, Medical Education, Philosophy, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, and Vice Chair of Radiology at Indiana University.

Free. Seating will be available on a first come, first served basis.

How to Draw Hands

Thursday, April 17, 5:30–7:30 pm
Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue

The human hand is notoriously hard to draw. Learn some tricks and techniques during a fun and supportive sketching session.

Free. All materials provided. Open to adults of all skill levels.

Drawing the Body with the Body

Thursday, May 15, 5:30–7:30 pm
Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue

Enjoy a performance by Mordine & Co. Dance Theater and take part in a gesture drawing and sketching program. The dance, choreographed by Shirley Mordine, is inspired by works on view in Imaging/Imagining. Performing Artists: Simone Baechle, Danielle Gilmore, Joseph Hutto, Emily Lukasewski, Michael O’Neil, and Melissa Pillarella.

Free. All materials provided. Open to adults of all skill levels.

About

Imaging/Imagining is curated by Brian Callender, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Mindy Schwartz, MD, Professor of Medicine, at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. It is presented by the Special Collections Research Center, Smart Museum of Art, and The John Crerar Library in collaboration with the UChicago Arts|Science Initiative. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Images (from left to right): Detail from Henry Gray’s Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical, 1858, Rare Book Collection, The University of Chicago Library.

Walker Evans, Untitled (Two hands), n.d., printed by the Chicago Albumen Works in 1980, Gelatin silver print. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Arnold H. Crane, 1980.107.

X-ray of a hand holding a feather duster from Walter König’s 14 Photographien mit Röntgen-Strahlen, 1896. John Crerar Collection of Rare Books in the History of Science and Medicine, The University of Chicago Library.

Media Images

Download high-resolution images on Dropbox.

Media Contacts

C.J. Lind, Associate Director, Communications, Smart Museum of Art, 773.702.0176, cjlind@uchicago.edu

Rachel A. Rosenberg, Director of Communications, The University of Chicago Library, 773.834.1519, ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu

This entry was posted in Exhibits, Feature Story, Humanities & Social Sciences, Media Kits, Science, Special Collections. Bookmark the permalink.
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