“Artful Medicine”: Surgery, Microscopes, and Plastination

Understanding medicine as an art is complex; it encompasses a number of facets. For one thing, the praxis itself is an art, but its roots also stem from a visual form of art.

1. Surgery

This is a great collaborative effort at Stanford to enhance surgical education through artistic representation. 

2. Microscopes

Which reminded me of one of my old favorite, Bioartography. This looks at disease through the lens of microscopic imaging.


3. Plastination

Which got me thinking about Body Worlds. The plastination of bodies are transformed to sculptures of art.

Art is deeply intertwined in our understanding of the human body, from a cellular level to a physiological level to an anatomical level and beyond. It’s interesting to consider these three perspectives on the art of medicine because they illuminate the fact that  this concept and this initiative is entirely natural.

But at the same time, exhibits like Body Worlds have raised ethical concerns about artistically displaying a body. Although plastination originated with educational intentions, the body has become commodified and manipulated. Is there somewhere we should draw the line between art and medicine?

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Filed under Visualizing Illness


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