Reviewed by Jim Young
Published by Dorling Kindersley
Price £25.00 hardback
In medicine the study of anatomy is a prerequisite for the understanding of pathology. But however much the study of exquisite human anatomy appeals to the medical professional it can be cloyed by the disease processes that will often corrupt that anatomy. How refreshing to read a book that celebrates anatomy as the basis of the beauty of the human form in art, and to realise how human emotions are integral to those forms. As humans we are programmed to perceive the subliminal messages that the human form can impart and by understanding the bones and muscles that underlie the form the artist can better transmit the feelings that are interwoven in any image.
For the medical student or medical practitioner there is an intrinsic joy in the cadaver as “real” anatomy, whereas, for others, the perfection of the human form is most resplendent in art. This book by Sarah Simblet bridges what might be perceived as divergent professional perspectives to evince the conterminate joys of the study of anatomy and the study of art to produce a sum that is literally more than the parts. The book will enrich the experience of anatomy for all readers but especially for artists and for medical practitioners.
The innovative overlay of translucent maps of bones directly above photographs of the corresponding body regions are graphic teaching aids.
That muscles underlie the topological anatomy is obvious, but to see it represented in art is fascinating. The ten Masterworks that “dissect” the artist’s interpretation of the anatomy and pose are interpreted with regard to the emotions that the artist intended to illicit in the viewer.
The book is rounded off with 6 drawing classes for the different anatomical regions: head, ribcage, pelvis, hands, feet, and pelvis that will be instructive for both the artist and for the medical anatomical illustrator.
There are more than 250 specially commissioned photographs by John Davies in the book and along with 100 drawings it comprises a superlative training and educational aid, but most of all it encapsulates the beauty of anatomy in art and as art. It is a pleasure to behold.