Anatomy

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Human anatomy is the scientific study of the structure of the human organism. Most visual representations of this science take the form of illustrations and diagrams that often blur distinctions between science and art. This can be seen in the rich tradition of Persian medical illustration or in the medical diagrams of historic Chinese texts. Renaissance artists, most famously Leonardo da Vinci, also demonstrated a scientific interest in the human body; Da Vinci created anatomical sketches from autopsies he performed himself. One of the most influential books on anatomy, Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica, published in Basel in 1543, contains lavish woodcut illustrations attributed to the workshop of Titian, highlighting art’s primary role in communicating truth and scientific knowledge during the Renaissance; it was at this time that the study of anatomy became foundational in artistic apprenticeship. Contemporary artists have used anatomy and anatomical drawing to interrogate scientific knowledge or to comment on the powerful relationship between humans and nature. While most medical anatomies in world history have centered on the male body as the universal human form, the anatomy of the female genitalia has been used to represent femininity and female power, from abstracted prehistoric figurines depicting goddesses of fertility to the provocative use of vaginal imagery by feminist artist Judy Chicago in such works as Rejection Breakthrough Drawing (1974).

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019