Cover image for Spectacular bodies : the art and science of the human body from Leonardo to now
Spectacular bodies : the art and science of the human body from Leonardo to now
Kemp, Martin.
Publication Information:
London : Hayward Gallery, 2000 ; Los Angeles : University of California Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
232 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Catalog of an exhibition of the same title held at Hayward Gallery, London, Oct. 2000-Jan. 14, 2001.
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N7625.5 .S64 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



This magnificently illustrated book accompanies the most ambitious exhibition in the Hayward Gallery's program for the year 2000. Spectacular Bodies: The Art and Science of the Human Body from Leonardo da Vinci to Now is a ground-breaking exhibition with the potential to be a visual, cultural, and academic revelation with profound impact. The project encourages a new way of looking at visual objects from the territories that are conventionally labeled "medicine" and "art."

The human body is an astounding feat of engineering. For centuries man has striven to understand its complexities, both artistically and anatomically, often resorting to human dissection. Illustrating the point at which medicine and art collide, Know Thyself brings together an extraordinary range of more than 250 objects from more than eighty medical and art museums and collections worldwide. Works of art from across the centuries include the anatomical drawings of Leonardo, Michelangelo, D#65533;rer, and Stubbs, seventeenth-century portraits of surgeons and paintings by great masters including Rembrandt, Hogarth, Courbet, Gericault, and Degas. These works will be shown in a new context alongside medical instruments, prints, and drawings used in the medical study of the human face and body, and life-size anatomical models.

Today, as forensic and medical sciences advance as never before--with the development of genetic fingerprinting, cryogenics, and designer babies--artists continue to find inspiration in the human body. Video installations, photography, and sculpture will present new perspectives on the historic material. The eight contemporary artists involved range from internationally celebrated video artists Bill Viola and Tony Oursler, to younger artists like Gerhard Lang, Christine Borland, and Marc Quinn.

Author Notes

Martin Kemp is professor of the history of art at Oxford University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Martin Kemp is professor of the history of art at Oxford University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Head, trunk and upper left limb of an adult male with vessels and nerves, 1804, wax"; "Amputation Saw, 1650-84, wood and wroght iron"; and Bill Viola's "The Space Between the Teeth, 1976, videotape" are just three anatomical parts of Spectacular Bodies: The Art and Science of the Human Body from Leonardo to Now, the catalogue of a recent exhibition at London's Hayward gallery. Curated by Oxford art historian Martin Kemp and Marina Wallace of the Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design, the exhibition and book show the human body in various states of disrepair and the differing postures scientists and other spectators tale towards it. The book's 100 color and 60 b&w illustrations are further revealed by careful research and clear exposition. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Alternately eloquent and visceral, this engaging 315-object exhibition catalog of anatomical drawings, wax models, medical charts, instruments, prints, photos, video stills, and even preserved body parts is a testament to human curiosity. Curators Kemp (history of art, Oxford) and Wallace (art, Central St. Martin's Coll. of Art & Design) skillfully interweave five centuries of history, science, and art, presenting such topics as dissection rituals, physiognomy, phrenology, the diagnosis of mental illnesses, and today's often controversial artistic body images. Copublished by London's Hayward Gallery, which houses the eponymous exhibition, the book is detailed and scholarly; the selection and presentation are consistently judicious and imaginative. The final section, "New Eyes," presents and critiques works by eight contemporary artists, including Christine Borland, Marc Quinn, and Bill Viola. Highly recommended for academic, medical, and science libraries. Russell T. Clement, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.